Friendship endures for Hautapu’s title-winning 1972 fourth-grade team

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It took 50 years but when Hautapu’s fourth-grade team finally got together again, the smiles were as wide as some of their winning margins.

The tight five pack down one more time.

The bodies and hairlines had changed but the laughter and comradeship still binds the Hautapu rugby team that won the 1972 grade title, and represented the club at U-19 level.

The reunion was sparked by the return to New Zealand of Steve Balsom, who lives in the United States and was holidaying in Cambridge.

The players rallied and spent an evening of memories and banter at the clubrooms.

In 1972, their fourth-grade team played 20 games, winning 15 and losing only five. The side ran up 419 points — in the days when tries were worth a mere three points — and conceded 139.

Their ability on the pitch lasted a season.

Their friendship has endured for half a century.

Main photo: The warriors return … (from left) Kevin Bourke, Keith Walker, Neville Norris, Brian Allen, Grenville Mead, Steve Balsom, Dennis Kirk and Barry Purdon.

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