Bullrush is back!

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 02/11/2012
bullrush
Photo: MARYKE PENMAN

BULLRUSH REVIVAL: TIKA director Sam Ward plans to bring back the banned schoolyard game of bullrush.

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The beloved, yet forbidden, Kiwi pastime of bullrush is set to return in an open tournament on November 17.

The inaugural TIKA Bullrush Pro-Am Tournament will see hundreds of people test their mettle alongside well-known media and sports personalities all vying for the title of TIKA Bullrush Champion.

Event organiser Sam Ward says the world began going south when Georgie Pie disappeared and teachers at primary schools enforced a bullrush ban back in the early 90s.

"It was a dark day when we could no longer play bullrush. Some of us reverted to playing in secrecy, but it kind of died out," he says.

Mr Ward has employed the help of friends Ben du Chateau, former North Harbour Rugby player Robbie Colhoun and Ben "Jarmo" Sturmfels, in an effort to revive the Kiwi tradition and to support men's health charity Movember.

Movember national manager Robert Dunne says the event is a great fit with the charity - and he is looking forward to taking part in the under-85kg category.

"Bullrush is almost some mystical game people have distant memories of and others never got to experience.

"For one day only there'll be no headmasters telling us we can't play," he says.

Principals banned bullrush after reports of injuries in the late 80s and early 90s.

It has since returned on a few occasions, such as at a Palmerston North primary school in 2009, but has been met with much debate.

"I remember running hell for leather at 20 other guys all wanting to tackle you - it was the most fun you could have at school," Mr Ward says.

"It seems wrong to deny kids the chance to play the great game that was the one thing most of us went to school for."

Special guests on the day will include former Warriors rugby league player Wairangi Koopu, ZM Radio host Jay Reeve and, just possibly, The Crowd Goes Wild personality James McOnie.

Weight, gender and age categories are open for entries and Mr Ward says there's a strict "no d...head policy".

"We don't want to see guys going out to deliberately hurt people.

"We want to keep within the family-friendly spirit of the event."

The outer oval at North Harbour Stadium has been booked for four hours and participants are encouraged to dress up.

"We'll get them running out of the tunnel as their names are announced over the loudspeaker.

"It's real grassroots fun and at the end of the day there'll be a legend born out there on that field."

The TIKA Bullrush Pro-Am Tournament is on Saturday November 17 from 1pm to 5pm at North Harbour Stadium. Go to tikarugby.co.nz and click on TIKA Bullrush to register.

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- North Shore Times

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