Auckland’s rugby league community did Luke Tipene proud when players, football staff, volunteers, family, friends and the public turned out in huge numbers to honour him at the Glenora Rugby League Club’s home ground in Glen Eden today.
The Luke Tipene Celebration Day had come about through a united effort involving Glenora, the Akarana Zone, the Auckland Rugby League, the New Zealand Rugby League and the Vodafone Warriors.
They banded together as the ‘community in league’ to stage an event which enabled rugby league people to not only remember Luke - who had his life taken on November 1 last year - but to put on a show that Luke would have loved, one which focused on playing the game, three games in all.
No one could put an official number on the crowd that gathered but all vantage points around the main field at Harold Moody Reserve in Glendale Road were jam-packed. Over the course of the day it’s likely 3000 people were there at some stage, among them non-playing Vodafone Warriors Simon Mannering, Konrad Hurrell, Tuimoala Lolohea, Ken Maumalo, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Sam Lisone.
There was a carnival atmosphere with entertainment for kids, an array of food stalls, music and much more.
And then there was the rugby league itself, just the way Luke would have wanted it. There taking in the emotional day was his mother Terry Wilson and her family.
Out on the field the Vodafone Warriors contributed by fielding four teams in the three matches.
A selection from the club’s wider NYC squad took on Glenora’s Fox Memorial squad. The young Vodafone Warriors players began impressively going out to a 30-4 lead before holding out the fast-finishing Bears to win 30-26.
The second match had particular interest for the Vodafone Warriors with the club’s New South Wales Cup side – coached by Stacey Jones – facing the best of the NYC-eligible players (Kelvin Wright with the coaching reins this year).
The youngsters were up against a line-up which included former Cronulla centre Jonathan Wright (who has 91 NRL appearances to his name) and Dominique Peyroux (32 games). The NYC side performed strongly in the first half, especially the second quarter, to trail only 10-16 before the New South Wales Cup combination asserted itself en route to a 36-14 victory.
The last match featured Luke Tipene’s Glenora club team against a Vodafone Warriors Academy, bringing together so many players he had touched as a team-mate, opponent or acquaintance during his short life.
In the first of what is planned to be an annual encounter, the academy side had a 26-10 win.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v GLENORA PREMIERS
Vodafone Junior Warriors 30 (Kauri Aupouri-Puketapu 2, Wesley Tauti, Sheldon Pitama, Joseph Price, Marlon Purcell tries; Ray Talimalie 2 conversions; Kauri Aupouri-Puketapu conversion).
Glenora Premiers 26 (Dakota Ruta, Aaron Swann, Chris Satoe, Joeli Volavou, Warwick Cheney tries; James Nathan 3 conversions).
Halftime: 24-4 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Neemia King (Glenora); Manu Weepu (Halswell), Levi McBirney (Westlake Boys’ High School), Pierre Pili (Massey rugby union), Wesley Tauti (Otahuhu); Kauri Aupouri-Puketapu (Wainuiomata), Ray Talimalie (Mangere East); Roman Tuhimata (Papakura), Sheldon Pitama (Melbourne), Nick Lui-Toso (Kelston Boys’ High School); Junior Lisone (Otahuhu), Siosaia Taufateau (Pakuranga); Joseph Price (Mangere East). Interchange: Solofa Silipa (Penrith), Sautia Misa (St Paul’s College), John Ogden (Wests Tigers), Marlon Purcell (Parramatta), James Mafi (Kelston Noys’ High School), King Vuniyayawa (Manurewa), Eddie Paealiki (Richmond), Willie Peace (Otara), Herman Santos (Glenora).
Glenora Bears | Dakota Ruta; Polima Siaki, Jalahn Iole, Zaylin Inu, Henare Overeem Maeva; Zensei Inu, Phil Kingi; Aaron Swann, Robbie Nathan, Chris Satoe; Paea Manukia, Mattais Heimuli; Shane Hannam. Interchange: Jacob Aldred, Amoni Tufui, Grady Samson, John Pierre, Joeli Volavou, Jordan Hall, Cameron Plant, Warwick Cheney, Mose Johnson Esera, James Nathan, Ayden Devery, Lomitusi Lomi.
VODAFONE WARRIORS NSW CUP v VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
Vodafone Warriors NSW Cup 36 (Willie Peace, John Palavi, Jethro Friend, Nathaniel Peteru, Herman Retzlaff, Jarrod Tua, Daniel Palavi tries; Jonathan Carl 2 conversions; Ray Talimalie 2 conversions).
Vodafone Junior Warriors 14 (Ata Hingano, Tamati Ioane-Niko, Wesley Tauti tries; Ata Hingano conversion).
Halftime: 16-10 NSW Cup
Vodafone Warriors NSW Cup | Viliami Kaveinga (Vodafone Warriors); Jarrod Tua (Mangere East), Jonathan Wright (Vodafone Warriors), Dominique Peyroux (Vodafone Warriors), Saula Solomona (Pt Chevalier); Jonathan Carl (Pt Chevalier), Sam Cook (Northcote); Daniel Palavi (Mt Albert), Zac Tippins (Mt Albert), Nathaniel Peteru (Vodafone Warriors); Stedman Lefau (Mangere East), James Bell (Papakura); David Bhana (Vodafone Warriors). Interchange: Jethro Friend (Howick), Zac Chongnee (Manurewa), Herman Retzlaff (Pt Chevalier), Ray Talimalie (Mangere East), John Palavi (Vodafone Warriors), Sione Feao (Otahuhu), Willie Peace (Otara).
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Brad Abbey (Richmond); Lui Tusa (Redcliffe), Marata Niukore (Mangere East), Semisi Tyrell (Mangere East), Tomas Aoake (Mangere East); Erin Clark (Pt Chevalier), Mafoa’aeata Hingano (Pakuranga); Bunty Afoa (Pt Chevalier), Jazz Tevaga (Papakura), Paul Tuli (Mangere East); Ofahiki Ogden (Mangere East), Matiu Love-Henry (Pt Chevalier); Toafofoa Sipley (Richmond). Interchange: Mikaere Beattie (Turangawaewae), Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano (Pacific Sharks), Tamati Ioane-Niko (Mangere East), Tualima Tualima (Pt Chevalier), Sheldon Pitama (Melbourne), Roman Tuhimata (Papakura).
VODAFONE ACADEMY v GLENORA 17/18s
Vodafone Academy 26 (Kenese Kenese 2, Chris Sio, Lewis Soosemea, Fabien Kiri tries; Chris Sio 2 conversion; Jarel Hemehema conversion).
Glenora Bears 17/18 10 (Josh Farrant, Jamie Dennis tries; Whitiora David conversion).
Halftime: 12-6 Vodafone Academy.
Vodafone Academy | Mark Graham (Mt Albert); Walter Fifita (Papakura), Melino Fineanganofo (Mt Albert), Elijah Sufia (Glenora), Kenese Kenese (Mangere East); Jarel Hemehema (Kaipara), Chris Sio (Marist) captain; Fabien Kiri (Palmerston North), Phoenix Hunt (Otahuhu), Lewis Soosemea (Mangere East); Eddie Wulf (Marist), Jerome Mamea (Pt Chevallier); Ofa Finau (Mangere East). Interchange: Javvier Pitovao (Pt Chevalier), Lopeti Mafi (Mangere East), Josh Uta (Otahuhu), Dylan Tavita (Richmond), Keanu Laumatia-Paki (Otahuhu), Cameron Iopu (Waitemata), Uli Vaipouli (Otara), Arno Mouton (Hibiscus Coast), Caleb Clarke (Richmond).
Glenora Bears 17/18 | Dean Kouka-Smith, Beau Cordtz, Jamie Dennis, Whitiora Davis, Viliami Otuafi, Zaylin Inu, Aron Faitaua, Neil Toloa, Tyrell Parker, Wyatt Rangi, Jake McKenzie, Paea Tokutaha, Anaru Nathan, Jayden Gormley, Alistair Findlay, Ben Miller, Tairan Devlin, Pasika Senefili, Conrad Maile, Corey Hiskens, Shaun Ford, Sylvester Tevaga, Amoni Tufui, Josh Farrant, Jayden Luatua, Sefo Pauli, Peni Misinale, Quest Campbell, Shane Hannam, Taniela Faimetau, Caleb Uele.