Battle Royal resumes after 32 year wait

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2012

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After a 32-year hiatus, a long running rivalry will resume on the hallowed turf of the Bluff Rugby Club tomorrow at 1pm.

The Bluff Golden Oldies team take on the might of the Millhillians Golden Oldies Rugby Club, who have made the journey from Wairarapa in the North Island.

Bluff Golden Oldies coordinator and player Norm Irwin said the two sides had played a home-and-away series in 1979 and 1980 and both clubs were looking forward to the long-awaited rematch.

"There won't be too many faces from those games, but there are several fresh-faced middle-aged blokes ready to huff and puff for Bluff," Mr Irwin said.

The Bluff squad has youth on its side, with only two players over 60; their opponents are one of the oldest clubs around.

Millhillians spokesman and player Ritchie Robertson said he hoped the oysters and liquid refreshments at the festival today would power his team to victory.

"We are not the youngest team going around; our oldest player is 75 and we have four guys over 60," he said.

Known as the side's secret weapon, Ross Bonnett said his age was actually an advantage.

"Because I'm 75, my opponents are not allowed to tackle me."

Neither side had been putting in the hard yards at training and said they were hoping natural ability and experience would shine through.

The Bluff Golden Oldies Club will host Millhillians as they enjoy a week of southern hospitality.

"The guys from up north will take in the festival before the game and then they will get the opportunity to head across to Stewart Island for a few days," Mr Irwin said.

The two sides agree victory is not the weekend's top priority.

"There are no winners in Golden Oldies Rugby, only grinners," Mr Robertson said.

"Combining a love of seafood and a love of rugby seems like a pretty good way to spend a weekend."

The Bluff Oyster Festival takes place at the Real Journeys site on Foreshore Road near the Old Town Wharf in Bluff from 11am.

Nearly 4000 tickets have been sold, with ticket sales today expected to push the crowd to a capacity 5000.

A bus service will operate from Invercargill to the festival.

For scheduling information visit www.bluffoysterfest.co.nz

Weather forecast: a mix of cloud and sun. Maximum temperature 11 degrees .neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

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- Southland

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