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Kansai and NZ Universities rugby teams visit during Otago’s 150th anniversary

The Clocktowers clock

Wednesday 27 February 2019 11:21am

Terry Kerr, Harlene Hayne and Paul Hessian image
Ready to welcome Kansai and NZ Universities, from left, Otago University Rugby Football Club Women’s Rugby Programme Facilitator Terry Kerr, University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne and Otago University Rugby Football Club Chairman Paul Hessian. Photo: Sharron Bennett

An exciting week of rugby is in store for rugby fans in the South, with the announcement that the Kansai Universities rugby team from Japan will visit Dunedin to play New Zealand Universities and the University of Otago during the first week of April.

Hosted by the Otago University Rugby Football Club on behalf of New Zealand Universities Rugby Football, the 30-member Kansai team arrives in Dunedin on 30 March, and plays Otago University on 2 April and NZ Universities on 6 April. Both games are at the University Oval.

The Kansai and NZ Universities visit is a special part of the University of Otago’s 150th anniversary celebrations, recognising the student club’s contribution to the University’s history and the close links between the NZ Universities and Japanese rugby teams.

The NZ Universities squad consists of 23 members, and it is the first time in 27 years that NZ Universities has played in Dunedin, the last match being in 1992. It is anticipated that a number of players from the University rugby club will be included when the NZ Universities team is named later in March.

“We are delighted Kansai and New Zealand Universities are coming to Dunedin for this special visit during our 150th anniversary year,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne.

“Rugby has always held an important place at the heart of Otago, and this visit is a fitting celebration of that history, and the links New Zealand Universities has with Japan. We hope rugby fans and former players will come from near and far to watch the games and share in the celebrations.”

Both teams will train at the University rugby grounds and also spend time sightseeing around the region as part of their visits.

After the game against Otago University at 2.30pm on 2 April, there will be an informal after-match function at the University clubrooms, where the Otago and Kansai players will be presented with 150th anniversary memorabilia.

The week of rugby includes a formal dinner that will be held in the University clubrooms after the match against NZ Universities, on Saturday 6 April. Speakers and distinguished Otago alumni attending on the night include David Kirk, former University A player, former All Black captain and now NZ Universities patron.

Otago University club chairman Paul Hessian says the club is delighted to have the NZ Universities and Kansai Universities players and management in Dunedin as part of the club’s contribution to the University’s 150th celebrations.

“Rugby has been an important outlet for many students during their time in Dunedin. The club has been a strong contributor to New Zealand Universities teams over our own history and we are indebted to New Zealand Universities Rugby Council for their support in getting the teams to Dunedin,” says Dr Hessian.

“Our women’s team will be involved in a local competition game as a curtain raiser to the New Zealand Universities and Kansai game on the Saturday.”

The only previous game involving NZ Universities and a Japanese team in Dunedin was in 1968 when a NZ Universities XV was beaten 19-32 by Japan. The Universities team travels to Japan every other year, with intervening years involving hosting Japanese rugby teams in New Zealand.

For further information please contact

Paul Hessian
Otago University Rugby Football Club Chairman
Tel +64 3 470 9103

Roger Drummond
President NZ Universities Rugby
Tel +64 4 916 7497