News & Events

Napier Boys’ High School take home the Unison Shield for the second year running

September 04, 2018

Napier Boys’ High School 3rd XV is the proud owner of the Unison Shield for the second year in a row, after defeating Wairoa College on Saturday in the Unison Secondary School Rugby Challenge Shield final.

Played as the curtain raiser to the Magpies versus Counties Manukau home game, Napier Boys’ High School came away with a 32-5 win against Wairoa College.

Napier Boys’ High School 3rd XV Captain, Toby Higgins said even though Wairoa brought their A-game, the boys played well and maintained their structure.

“It was a good game and the boys played well. Wairoa brought it to us, but at the end of the day we stuck to our structure and managed to get the ball into the wider channels which resulted in some pretty good try’s.

“There were a few words that went around in the lead up given we had been up to Wairoa and got a bit of a hiding (25-0), so that was in the back of our minds a little bit heading in to the game. But we just gave it all we’ve got, and obviously came away with the win.

“The 1st XV won yesterday as well so it’s been a good weekend for Napier Boys’, we’re pretty happy.”

The Challenge Shield is part of Unison’s sponsorship with the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union and an extension of its junior rugby programme.

In presenting the Shield on behalf of the Unison Group, Relationship Manager, Danny Gough, said Unison was proud to support the regions’ rising rugby stars.

“We get a real thrill out of supporting local rugby at this level, and I personally look forward to this match every year.

“Many of these players have come right through our junior rugby programme, and their passion for the game is evidently still strong. As long as this is the case they are leading active lifestyles, which is what we want to see in our communities.”

In addition to the Shield, Mr Gough presented each player of the winning team with a medal, and Unison put on a pre-match breakfast for both teams. 

Development camps kick-off for region’s top young female rugby players

July 13, 2018
Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union’s (HBRU’s) annual player development camps kicked-off yesterday, with 30 of Hawke’s Bay’s best under-18 girls’ rugby players gathering at Lindisfarne College for three days of intense training.

The girls’ development camp taking place these school holidays is one of four sponsored by Unison. The other three camps will also give the region’s most promising boys under-14, under-16 and under-18 the opportunity to develop their rugby skills further.

Following the camps, Hawke’s Bay representative sides from each of the four camps will be selected to play in the Hurricanes regional tournaments in October.  

HBRU Women’s Rugby Development Officer, Krysten Cottrell is leading the girls’ camp alongside former Magpies captain, Super Rugby player and HBRU Academy Manager, Jason Shoemark, and said she is excited about developing the young players’ skills to help strengthen the women’s game in the region.

“These girls have been selected not only due to their potential to grow as players, they also have a strong passion for the sport, which will no doubt see them become ambassadors to help encourage participation in the game.

“The camps give participants the opportunity to further develop their skills and experience the sort of support that professional players receive.

“They’ve got access to some of the region’s top coaches and players, including current Magpies, Ellery Wilson, Mason Emerson and Jason Long. We have trainers, nutritionists and mental skills coaches on board,” Mrs Cottrell said. 

Unison Group Chief Executive, Ken Sutherland, said Unison is pleased to support junior rugby and the development camps in Hawke’s Bay for the tenth consecutive year.

“Unison’s partnership with HBRU is this year targeted towards developing women’s rugby in Hawke’s Bay, and these camps are well positioned to help achieve this.

“We look forward to seeing the young girls who come through these camps achieve their potential, just like players such as Jonah Lowe – who was a Unison medal recipient as a junior – and Under 20 World Champion, Tiaan Falcon, have done in previous years,” Mr Sutherland said.

Unison Junior Football Tournament a Success

June 06, 2018
The inaugural Unison Junior Football Tournament which saw more than 1500 players descend on Park Island on Saturday 2 June has proved a great success.

The tournament is open to all junior footballers and featured a round-robin format, where teams had a minimum of five 12-minute games.Junior Tournament

Relationship Manger, Danny Gough, says Unison is proud to support one of its newest partners, Central Football, to help develop more talent in our region, starting at grassroots level.

“The Unison Junior Football Tournament was a great opportunity for us to reach out and develop closer relationships with more of our customers in a fun, friendly environment, while supporting active, healthy children in Hawke’s Bay,” says Gough. 

This weekend’s competition is the first of two tournaments, with the second to be held on Saturday 25 August.

Unison to connect female rugby players at inaugural Gala Day

May 01, 2018

Over 120 rugby players will take to the field at the inaugural Unison Women’s Rugby Gala Day on Saturday 5 May which aims to encourage more female participation in our national game.

The women’s event will see female players from across Hawke’s Bay participate in skills sessions and aged-based tournaments at Tareha Reserve in Taradale, from 9am – 2.30pm.

Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough said Unison is proud to support the growth and development of rising female rugby players in the region.

“Unison’s partnership with Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union – through our Greatest Supporter Programme – is this year targeted towards developing women’s rugby to strengthen the game in Hawke’s Bay, and spread our safety messages further.

“The Gala Day will be a great recruitment tool to bring current and aspiring female rugby players together to encourage participation and develop talent,” Mr Gough said.

HBRU Women’s Rugby Development Officer, Krysten Cottrell said the Gala Day will provide women with the opportunity to give rugby a go in a supportive environment.

“Our region is bursting with talent and this event will allow current and prospective female rugby players to improve their skills and knowledge of the game, while exploring what opportunities are available for them to develop within the sport,” Mrs Cottrell said.

The Unison Women’s Rugby Gala Day comprises three aged-based tournaments and kicks off with a skills session at 9am.

Gala Day schedule:

• 9am – 10am: Skills session
• 10am – 11am: Intermediate/High School tournament
• 11am – 2pm: Women’s tournament
• 2.15pm: Prize giving
• 2.30pm: Finish

For more information follow Unison and HBRU’s Facebook pages (@UnisonNetworks and @hbmagpies).

Unison to support junior Hawke’s Bay rugby players for further three years

March 08, 2018

Unison Networks is continuing its support of junior rugby in Hawke’s Bay by extending its sponsorship deal with the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union (HBRU) through to 2021.

Under its Greatest Supporter programme – which is this year celebrating 10 years supporting junior sport - the electricity distributor encourages participation in sport, providing financial assistance and/or sports equipment for young rugby, netball, hockey and football players.

Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough said, “Our partnership with HBRU is where our Greatest Supporter programme kicked off, originating with junior rugby in 2009. It’s one of our longest and most visible sponsorships and is an incredibly important vehicle for promoting safety around electricity to young people.

“Playing sport brings people together, encourages participation, develops talent and contributes to the wellbeing of our regions, which we are proud to power and connect,” Mr Gough said.

HBRU CEO, Jay Campbell, who was key in establishing the partnership with Unison along with Mr Gough in 2009, said rugby has seen significant growth since Unison’s involvement.

“Over 33,000 junior rugby players have come through since 2009 and numbers continue to grow each season. We’re excited to extend our partnership with Unison to promote and deliver rugby across the province,” said Mr Campbell.

Sponsorship renewed with a focus on women’s rugby

The three-year deal will see some of Unison’s sponsorship targeted towards developing women’s rugby, which will help to strengthen the game in Hawke’s Bay.

“We believe that recruiting and developing more female coaches and referees is critical in getting more female players participating, so that’s where our focus will sit,” said Mr Campbell.

Unison has recently extended its support of junior netball, signed a one-year contract with Central Football – with a view to extending this a further – and supports junior hockey.

The company will begin distributing around 10,000 10 Years Greatest Supporter bags in the province’s colours of black and white from March, when rugby weigh ins begin, until around May as each sports season begins.

Time for Junior Rugby Players to Weigh-In

March 01, 2018
Summer is officially over and with the winter sport season just around the corner, the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union and Intercity Junior Rugby Board have put the call out to all junior rugby players to ensure that they attend their club's official weigh-in.

Hawke's Bay Rugby and Unison have helped over 33,000 rugby players play the game for the past 10 years, and we want to make sure everyone can play in 2018. So don't miss out - get along to your club's weigh-in. All the details are on the poster below.

All returning players from 2017 should look to be registered online by the 31st March 2018 to play in this seasons IJRB competitions. For further information, contact your club convenor or see

Junior rugby weigh in schedules 2018

Unison strikes partnership with Central Football

February 12, 2018
Now in its tenth year of sponsoring junior sport in Hawke’s Bay, electricity distributor Unison Networks has entered a one-year partnership with Central Football Federation.

Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough said Unison is already a major sponsor of junior rugby, netball and hockey, and is extremely pleased to now offer support to football, which has seen growth of around two percent per year over the last five years.

“This partnership will help Unison develop closer relationships with more of our customers and better understand their needs while at the same time supporting active, healthy children in Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s also a great opportunity for us to deliver electrical safety messages to our young people and educate them on how to stay safe around Unison’s network. Partnering with Central Football will allow us to reach over 1700 children aged 13 (years) and under that we haven’t reached before,” said Mr Gough.  

Along with its continued backing of junior sport in the region, Unison is this year focused on supporting the development of women’s sport. The company will help Central Football leverage the development of 20 female junior coaches in Hawke’s Bay throughout the junior football season (5 May – 25 August 2018).

Central Football Chief Executive Officer, John McGifford said Unison’s support will allow the Federation to deliver additional and better-quality programmes across the board. However, he sees the development of female coaches as a key to strengthening and growing the game further in Hawke’s Bay.

“Nationally female participation has slipped. So one of our key drivers is to understand this dip in numbers, address the issues behind it and rebuild, starting at grassroots level. Our coaching and mentoring programme will this year focus on building a solid platform for female players to increase their involvement in the game,” said Mr McGifford.

Mr McGifford said partnering with Unison will also support the sports’ ongoing growth by allowing Central Football to reach out to more people, through wider communication and brand exposure than they usually have access to.

Unison runs a variety of competitions and campaigns throughout the season to maintain engagement including the ever-popular Great Photo competition, Game of the Week competition and Half Time Heroes promotion.

At the end of the season the Unison Medal ceremony will be held, acknowledging parents, coaches and players. The ceremony will also recognise one outstanding player from each team who has shown work ethic, discipline and fair play throughout the season.

Irene Van Dyk Presents Unison Medals to Junior Netballers

September 11, 2017

The 2017 junior winter netball season came a close on Tuesday as around 500 junior players, coaches and their families from across Hawke's Bay gathered for Unison's annual Junior Netball Medal Ceremony at the Bay Outreach Centre in Hastings. Netball 7

Former Silver Fern, Irene van Dyk, presented 183 medals to players aged from 7 to 12 years old who had demonstrated excellence and sportsmanship on the court throughout the season.

Irene van Dyk said the Unison medal ceremony was important for helping to shape young Hawke's Bay netball players.

"I got a real thrill being a part of the ceremony with Unison. It's great to see the kids rewarded for aiming high and demonstrating important values like discipline and fair play. I appreciated being able to share some of my experiences and hopefully inspired some of the young players to keep working hard and potentially become Silver Ferns themselves someday."

Hawke's Bay Netballs Operations Manager, Tina Arlidge said the partnership with Unison which started four years ago made a significant difference to junior netball programmes.

"Since Unison came on board in 2013 the number of junior netball players in Hawke's Bay has significantly increased."

Mr Gough said Unison's support of junior netball was not only about supporting healthy, active young children but also enabled the Company to engage with children on important safety issues.

Unison's final Medal Ceremony in which the regions junior hockey players will be recognised takes place next Tuesday. 

Junior Rugby Players Rewarded for Excellence On and Off the Field

August 28, 2017

With the 2017 junior rugby season drawing to a close this weekend, around 500 young rugby players, coaches and their families from across Hawke’s Bay gathered for Unison’s annual Junior Rugby Medal Ceremony at the Bay Outreach Centre in Hastings on Tuesday night. Bruno Phillips

Over 160 medals were given out to players aged from 5 to 12 years old who had demonstrated excellence on and off the field during the season. Recipients were presented their medal by members of the Hawke’s Bay Magpies including former All Black, Brad Weber and current Magpies captain, Ash Dixon.

HBRU Commercial Manager, Jay Campbell said the partnership with Unison which started nine years ago had grown from strength to strength.

“Unison’s support of rugby in Hawke’s Bay makes a significant difference to our junior rugby programme. This season the number of young players in Hawke’s Bay has increased by another two percent. This continues an ongoing trend in growth of junior player numbers for the last five years.  Unison’s support also allows us to continually lift the quality of the programmes we offer”

Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough, said the Unison Medal had become a highlight of the junior sports calendar for players across Hawke’s Bay. 

“The Medal Ceremony started back in 2009, as part of our initiative supporting grass-roots rugby. We’re thrilled to see how this event has evolved over the years and take immense pride in seeing how delighted the recipients are to receive their medal in front of their family and friends.”

He said the Medal Ceremony played an important role in helping shape young players on and off the field with one player from each team selected for displaying several important values.

Magpies 2017 1“The award recognises the values of work ethic, discipline, and fair play. These are all essential traits for any budding young person, not just in rugby but in life too."

Medal recipient, Bruno Phillips, of Hereworth School said, “I got a real buzz of being a part of the ceremony. I want to go on and become a Magpie, and winning this shows that I can do it.”

Mr Gough said its support of junior rugby, also enabled Unison to engage with children on important safety issues.

“We’re passionate about supporting our local communities, and about keeping them safe around our electrical assets within the region.  Our partnership with Hawke’s Bay rugby enabled us to engage with over 3,000 children and their families involved in the sport this year.”


Napier Boys' High School Win the Unison Shield

August 21, 2017

Napier Boys' High School's 3rd XV walked away with the Unison Shield for the first time on Saturday following their 27-15 win against Hastings Boys' High School.

The game was played as the curtain raiser to the Magpies vs Southland Mitre 10 Cup Round 1 game at McLean Park.

Unison Shield Final - Napier Boys

Napier coach, Brendon Ratcliffe said the win was well-deserved by the team.

"We knew it was always going to be a tough game due to the history between the two schools and the fact that we had both beaten each other already this season."

"We've focussed on doing really simple things well all year. It was very pleasing to see these young men play for each other and show such composure at critical times. It has been a privilege to work with this team and coach alongside Dion Whaitiri. They should be very proud of what they've done and how they've gone about it."

Hastings Boys' High School, while disappointed with the result, certainly didn't go down without a fight.

"They've had a strong season and can be proud of that. It's always good to see these two rivals go at it in a physical battle," said Ratcliffe.

In presenting the Shield on behalf of the Unison Group, Marketing Coordinator, Ethan Dent said Unison was proud to support the region's rising rugby stars.

"A number of these players have benefited from Unison's sponsorship of junior rugby and the HBRU player development camps. Their passion and desire are clearly there to be seen. Not only is it great for these players, it's great for our communities and that's important to us."

In addition to the Shield, each player of the winning team received a medal and a $500 R80 Sports Voucher was presented to Napier Boys', whilst Hastings Boys' took away a $200 R80 Sports Voucher.