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23 May 2014
The McClure family of Wellington New Zealand have been friends of my family for 25 years. Wife Cindy and Husband Lance have two kids and they live in the suburb of Lower Hutt.
Lance has served in the New Zealand police force for all of his working life, rising to be a Senior constable. Several times he has been posted to the Solomon Islands to assist in the rebuild of that country after violent storm damage.
This year Lance sent me this touching and very sad story of rugby connection and also about the loss of one life in the recent floods.
From the Solomon Star Times: Electronic Edition 12 April 2014.
SATURDAY, 12 APRIL 2014 12:38
WHEN the Solomon Islands sent a rugby team to the Hong Kong 7s for the first time in 1983, one of the key players was Leonard Pugeva. But now 30 years later Leonard's family and the rugby community are mourning.
Leonard died in the raging torrents of the flashflood of the Matanikau river on Thursday last week and his body, and those of three of his grandchildren who drowned in the flooded river, will be taken to his home village of Tokengau in Bellona for burial today.
He took up rugby in 1971 and was 27 when he first represented Solomon Islands at Hong Kong according to historical records.
He had previously represented the country at the 1979 South Pacific Games and in 1980 at the Air Pacific Trophy competition.
Now at the age of 58 years, he is gone from among us.
This information paper comes from a member of the rugby community who was shocked to hear of his passing in such tragic circumstances.
Two of his children and a daughter-in-law and her brother survived the flood waters and were plucked from Point Cruz harbor by rescuers on boats.
Leonard's tragic story was played out in other families in Honiara last week and there are many others who lost mainly mothers and children.
He and his family had almost completed their family home on the bank of the Matanikau river near Vara creek where they operated a small canteen while he bought timber to complete the structure.
With his eldest son he was attending to the timber when the flashflood hit the canteen and then washed everyone downstream.
The house was then hit by debris and it collapsed into the river and floated downstream with two hundred pieces of 4 by 1 inch timber.
Leonard will long be remembered in the rugby community.
He went to Hong Kong twice and played for several years before retiring.
His second son Masunu became a national representative in both wrestling and rugby 7s.
His legacy to sport and to his family will live on.
He is survived by his wife Teisi, several children and several remaining grandchildren.
Teiti's people in Honiara and Wagina are also in mourning.
Fa’ako Liolea, another former rugby star, married Leonard's sister and was with the family most of the past week, and their rugby playing partner Joe Uilelea and his wife (Teiti's sister) sent condolences from Samoa where Joe is a Congregational Minister.
Others in their champion team of 1983 were John Bainivalu, Jared Beti, Tela Delaiverata, Warren Bao, Josaia Titia, Job Tuhaika and Bobby Ramo.
Most of them played at Hong Kong again in 1984.
The Australian team they faced included such names as David Campese and the Ella brothers
The first test when playing for money fires up Sean Fitzpatrick's team to a 43-6 win over Australia in Wellington!
Hawke’s Bay, East Coast and New Zealand
9 internationals for New Zealand 1924–30
A legendary figure in a legendary team, the 1924 ‘Invincible’ All Blacks. Only 19 at the time, George Nepia played all 38 matches during that gruelling tour of Australia, Britain, Ireland, France and Canada.
British sides were unstinting in their praise of Nepia, the rock on whom so many of their attacks foundered. His courage under the high ball and in repelling foot rushes, the crunching certainty of his tackling and the strength of his spiraled line kicking – all of these combined to restrict opposition teams to no more than 180 points against the All Blacks in the 38 games.
Nepia could also run with the ball. He had started his first-class career as a wing, then a five-eighth, before outstanding fullback displays in 1924 resulted in his being chosen as the only last line of defence. Early in the tour of Britain he made a sizzling run, but the dictatorial Mark Nicholls told him to leave the running to his five-eighths and three-quarters: his job was to defend. It was not until the 37th match of the tour, in Canada, that Nepia scored his first try!
A bogus telegram which advised the selectors of Nepia’s ‘unavailability’ cost him a place with the New Zealand Maoris’ trend-setting tour to Britain in 1927, and his All Black career finished after the 1930 home series against the British Isles. After a temporary retirement, Nepia returned to bid for a place with the 1935–36 All Blacks to tour Britain but was surprisingly not selected, though then playing as well as at any time of his career.
With his financial security in tatters at the end of the Depression, Nepia readily accepted the lure of rugby league money and played two seasons in England, and then for New Zealand. Reinstated to rugby in what was then called the ‘war-time amnesty’ which allowed rugby league professionals to return without recrimination to the amateur rugby union, Nepia played for East Coast in 1947, and in 1950 captained the Olympians club in a first-class fixture against Poverty Bay. George Nepia, father and son, were the fullbacks and captains on this historic day, George senior being 45 years old at the time.
He became an active referee and many spectators went to games just to watch Nepia referee, rather than see the two teams doing battle.
How many test matches for Australia did the three famous Ella brothers play, on the field at the same time?