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SunLive – Baywide rugby and the Jordan Cup jigsaw

When I became curious about the background of a Western Bay of Plenty Rugby Sub-Union trophy, that was about to be re-allocated for competition in 2001, I couldn’t have known that the pieces of the Jordan Cup jigsaw would take over two decades to complete.

The introduction of season-long Baywide rugby in 2000 saw the former Tauranga Rugby Union Championship prize made redundant, before being re-introduced in 2001 as the WBOPRS Challenge trophy within the Baywide competition.

The first indication of the history of the very big piece of silverware came when the Tauranga Rugby Union minute book 1915-24 was rediscovered.

At a meeting held July 24, 1920, a TRU meeting resolution recorded that MR JA Jordan was unanimously elected to the TRU committee.

Some years later, this writer got his hands on the trophy with the engraving reading ‘Presented to the Tauranga Rugby Union by Mr JA Jordan in 1913’.

In a conversation with a Te Puna Rugby Club stalwart earlier this year, I asked about how many times Te Puna had won the Jordan Cup when it was the local club rugby top-grade trophy. This is when the last pieces of the Jordan Cup jigsaw fall into place.

The result was that the Jordan Cup spent a couple of weeks on my office floor, while I undertook the laborious task of recording the championship winners over the years, from the Cup engravings.

With several engravings almost indescribable, I turned to Papers Past to solve the missing pieces of the puzzle.

A Bay of Plenty Times piece dated May 12, 1913, told the tale of Mr JA Jordan’s donation. “There is now to be seen in the shop window of Mr McMahon’s establishment, a handsome trophy in the form of a silver cup, which has been presented to the Tauranga Rugby Union by Mr JA Jordan of Dunedin, for competition amongst the various football clubs that constitute the Union.”

“The donor, Mr Jordan, is an old Tauranga boy and during his long residence in town he took a keen interest in rugby. For many years he was a member of the representative team and also took an active part in the formation of the first Union.”

“It is therefore pleasing to find that although Mr Jordan is a resident of Dunedin, he still shows his interest in football here, and all footballers will appreciate his generosity which has prompted him to donate the cup for competition. May the struggle for possession lead to numerous stirring contests.”

The result of recording the Tauranga Rugby Union champions over the years, reveals club names that now sit in the mists of time.

Whakamarama followed the inaugural winner, Rangataua, in lifting aloft the rugby prize in triumph during 1914.

Huimai in 1932, is a name long forgotten, with Tauranga Athletic reigning supreme in 1931 and 1932.

The engraving of Airforce in 1942 and 1943, remembers the servicemen that played the great game during their time at the RNZAF base during WW2.

Rangataua sit at the top of the 1913-1999 Jordan Cup standings, with Cadets Old Boys (14) and High School Old Boys (9), who amalgamated to form present day Tauranga Sports – a team that occupies prominent positions on the list.

Mount Maunganui, who will celebrate their centenary year next season, sit with 10 Jordan Cup titles, with the first coming in 1955.

In answer to the question that led to completing the jigsaw – Te Puna won the Jordan Cup eight times (1919-23, 1925, 1934 & 1963), with Matakana Island a real force through to the 1950’s with eight victories.

Few Kiwi sporting trophies can claim to have been in almost continuous competition for 110 years, with the WBOPRFS Challenge prize again on the line this weekend, when current holders Te Puna square off against Rangiuru at Centennial Park in Te Puke.

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