Tasman’s amazing revival

Date published: October 23 2014

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Tasman will complete a remarkable turnaround in fortunes if they beat Taranaki in Saturday’s ITM Cup Final in New Plymouth.

Tasman will complete a remarkable turnaround in fortunes if they beat Taranaki in Saturday’s ITM Cup Final in New Plymouth.

In 2008 the New Zealand Rugby Union announced that the Nelson-based union and Northland would be relegated from the tournament after they failed to meet the NZRU criteria.

This criteria included financial stability barely two seasons after Tasman was established as a merger between the Nelson Bays and Marlborough unions.

The NZRU eventually reversed their decision thanks to public pressure and superb form from the team who finished seventh in the standings.

Both Tasman and Northland stayed on in the top tier of the tournament as part of 14 teams instead of the 12 sides which was initially suggested by the NZRU.

Peter Barr was Tasman’s chief executive in 2008 and praised how far the union has come since then.

“We always thought that we could get to where we’ve got to today way back in 2008,” he told Fairfax Media.

“The whole purpose of the amalgamation was to keep players in the region and we’ve managed to do that and through our success over the years, we’ve managed to attract new players to town.

“That was always the aim and it’s just wonderful that it’s come to fruition.

“But of course, all good things don’t come easy and when I cast my mind back and think about the battle we had with the New Zealand Rugby Union, plus the battle between the two towns, it was a pretty stressful time.

“But no-one gave up; we always were strong in our vision.”

Barr resigned from his role in 2011 but remains an avid Makos supporter and will be backing them against Taranaki this weekend.

“There’s a couple of things about the team – one is they’re just a great bunch of guys and they’re humble, they understand the need to support their sponsors and the community,” he said.

“They’re not big-headed – and they’re athletes.

Once of their strengths is obviously their unity and also the incredible fitness they have – and their fitness trainer [Glenn Stewart] can take a lot of credit for that.

“But on top of all that, you can’t do it without the coaches and Kieran [Keane] and Leon [MacDonald] are outstanding.

“They work well together [and] obviously Kieran with his experience as a coach and Leon with his experience as a player at the highest level coming though as a coach is great to see.”

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