Northland rugby honours Johnny Isaacs

By Dean Nathan

A trophy that celebrates past Māori rugby achievement continues to inspire Māori rugby in Northland.

It's been more than five decades since Johnny Isaacs donned the black jersey, but today his legacy lives on.

Taumarere, the meeting place of chiefs in times gone by, is today the centre for raising the level of Māori rugby.

Moses Cherrington says, “This day is about honouring Johnny Isaacs.  He was a giant of a man and always very cheerful he never got angry but beware if he caught you in his big hands.”

A Māori All Black in the 1950s and a top rugby administrator, today Johnny Isaacs' work continues.

Eric Rush says, “Māori Rugby is a little bit different.  It’s not so structured and it lets them showcase what they've got you know. And the fact that they're identifying with who they are.  It’s an important part of New Zealand rugby Māori rugby so we've got to keep it strong and keep pushing our boys through to that top level.”

Moses Cherrington says, “It's important that the selectors see for themselves that we have the calibre of players here to represent Northland.”

After a disastrous season for Northland rugby in last year's national provincial competition, this event has brought together the youth grade teams from north and south of the union along with senior women and men to raise the standard of Northland rugby.

Former Māori All Black, Percy Erceg says, “Too right! It's a great day for Māori rugby.  I hope Northland will get behind the Māori Advisory Board and really promote this game and games like this.”

Cherrington says, “If Māori rugby in Northland is strong then our top team the Taniwha will be strong.”