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Kiwis in Europe: Why New Zealand Rugby and the Chiefs still miss Charlie Ngatai

By Campbell Burnes
(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

New Zealand rugby, and the Chiefs in particular, still miss Charlie Ngatai.


The 30-year-old, one-test All Black, continues to show his class for Lyon in the French Top 14.

In this morning’s match, Ngatai’s skill was to the fore on several occasions at No 12 as Lyon defeated Bordeaux-Begles 27-10 at home. His howitzer-like boot saw him land a mammoth penalty goal from his own half and he made other telling touches as Lyon registered its first win. Alongside Ngatai were Toby Arnold (15) and Alex Tulou (19).

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Wallabies fullback Tom Banks speaks to media ahead of opening Bledisloe Cup match
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Wallabies fullback Tom Banks speaks to media ahead of opening Bledisloe Cup match

Prop Ben Tameifuna was penalised at scrum time, which did not help his team, while Ben Lam was largely unemployed on the wing. Ben Botica was a replacement for the visitors.

Elsewhere, Brandon Nansen and So’otala Fa’aso’o played their parts in Brive’s 19-13 win over Luke Whitelock’s Pau.

Mat Luamanu, Joe Ravouvou, who scored a try, and Alofa Alofa all turned out in Bayonne’s 26-19 victory over Telusa Veainu’s Stade Francais. The latter, a Tongan international and former Canterbury rep, scored a try for the Parisians.

JJ Taulagi helped celebrate his old province Hawke’s Bay’s Ranfurly Shield heist with a try for Agen in its 31-12 defeat to Clermont. Sam Vaka and Paula Ngauamo were alongside him. Les Jaunards included Fritz Lee, George Moala and Tim Nanai-Williams.


Pita Ahki, Joe Tekori and Jerome Kaino (at lock!) were in the winner’s circle for Toulouse, which beat Toulon 39-19. Brian Alainu’uese, Tane Takalua and Bryce Heem featured for Les Toulonnais.

The regular season placings for the 2019-20 Gallagher Premiership are not yet decided, with Sale still to play Worcester midweek.

Jimmy Gopperth, at 37, was in top touch for Wasps, who qualified second after dispatching top qualifiers Exeter Chiefs 46-5. The former Hurricanes and Blues pivot scored a try and kicked six goals. Former Auckland No 10/15 Jacob Umaga scored a try, while Malakai Fekitoa, Brad Shields and Jeff Toomaga-Allen all featured for the victors.

Sean Maitland’s Saracens drew 17-all with Bath.


Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears will finish either third or fourth after defeating London Irish 36-7. Former Wesley College and Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu was at tighthead prop for the Exiles.

John Afoa, Chris Vui, Jake Heenan and Siale Piutau all fronted for the Bears.

Former Blues threequarter Joe Marchant showed he has absorbed his lessons well from his time in New Zealand, with a double in Harlequins’ 32-26 win over Leicester. Former Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo scored a try for the Tigers.

Round one of the PRO14 saw former Chiefs wing James Lowe scoring a brace for Leinster in the 35-5 victory over the Dragons. Jamison Gibson-Park and Michael Bent were among his teammates.

Willis Halaholo and Rey Lee-Lo enjoyed a 16-6 Cardiff Blues win over Zebre, who fielded Junior Laloifi and Jimmy Tuivaiti.

Sean Reidy and Alby Mathewson tasted a 35-24 victory for Ulster over Treviso. The Italians included Hame Faiva, Toa Halafihi, and an all-Kiwi back three of Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, Monty Ioane and Jayden Hayward.

Munster edged Scarlets 30-27, with Blade Thomson and Sam Lousi turning out for the latter.

Bundee Aki’s Connacht beat Glasgow 28-24, the Warriors fielding Fotu Lokotui and Aki Seiuli off the bench.

Two Kiwi tightheads – Simon Berghan of Edinburgh and Ma’afu Fia of Ospreys – featured in the latter’s 25-10 win.


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