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About Rugby For Life

What We Do


To enrich the
lives of all

See Our Stories


What is Rugby For Life?

Rugby for Life is a Northland-based charitable trust that harnesses the power of rugby to help improve the lives of all Northlanders and their communities.

Building on the networks, values and influence of the Northland Rugby Union and the Northland Rugby Community, the Rugby for Life program provides meaningful support to communities at a local level in all corners of the region, to achieve positive health, education, and employment outcomes for Northland.


Empowering Our Communities

Focusing on the most significant social and economic issues confronting Northland; programs are specially tailored to key age groups to establish connections, deliver coaching, education, training, and mentoring, that will in turn, drive positive change, build on the pride of Northlanders, and create sustainable opportunities for our rangatahi to have lifelong careers in Northland.

These opportunities are not exclusive to Northland Rugby Clubs, they are inclusive of all people, race and creed and are proudly supported by and linked with Northland Iwi’s, schools, hospitals, and businesses.

Meet our team

The people behind it all

What is the most important thing in the world? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. The team behind Rugby For Life are a group of dedicated individuals who are passionate in their drive to enrich the lives of the people of Northland. Their personal connections to the community through past and present, provide first-hand experience and insight into the areas that need the most support and what will make the biggest difference. It is those connections that drive them to invest their time and aroha into helping create positive change and opportunities for Northlanders.

Ajit Balasingham web 1 of 3 2
As an employer, I see kids coming through with a lack of confidence. Sport enhances abilities and makes people resilient. Rugby is the sport we love and RFL is gaining momentum to do things better, collectively. It is an important ecosystem that provides opportunities in education, wellness, and employment. If I can use my talents to support these communities, I want to be a part of it.

Ajit Balasingham


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Rugby for Life was founded on an idea to do good in the community and help Northland families thrive by using the local rugby clubs as hubs for sport and provide opportunities around wellness, employment, and training. Riki played rugby for Otago and co-owns the Duke of Marlborough in Russell. His whakapapa goes back to Nga Puhi.

Riki Kinnaird


geoff new 012
RFL provides a bridge between the rugby community and essential services in education, health, and employment to provide solutions. RFL connects sponsors to support the clubs that benefit the game as well as the community. The game is important but people are more important. I am passionate about rugby and see real value in the service delivery of RFL. Iwi – Ngati Porou

Geoff Milner


Sharon Morgan2 v2
Sharon was the first female President of Northland Rugby Union – the first for any provincial union in NZ and served as Deputy Mayor of Whangarei. Sharon’s incredible energy, integrity, dignity, and humour has benefited the Northland community. Sharon brings her passion for sport and the arts to help guide the leading principles of RFL around wellness, education, and employment.

Sharon Morgan


Martin Cleave Image
In Martin’s own words “I live and breathe rugby!” Martin Cleave has been a Rugby For Life Trustee from the start. He has a diverse professional background having worked in many sectors including; Film and television, senior management, acompany director, Board directorships, company owner and CEO.
Martin (Te Rarawa, Ngatiwai,Tainui) has been deeply involved with Marae, Hapu, Iwi and Māori business owners working collaboratively to provide positive outcomes for those communities. He has mentored rangatahi, youth to build their personal capacity, encouraging and training them to take on higher education and more senior roles.
Martin shares this same passion and drive with Rugby for Life and their clubs. Providing personal insight and experience to help clubs increase growth, stability, and longevity. Martin’s ongoing commitment and celebration of diversity are true assets for Rugby For Life.

Martin Cleave


Ashleigh Wihongi Image
Ashleigh joins the team with a wealth of knowledge and experience under her belt. Ashleigh is the Commercial Partnerships Manager for Moana Pasifika. A comprehensive role that works to identify, research, and make recommendations on new business partnerships and opportunities that focus on aligning values and initiatives to Māori and Pasifika communities. She also has experience working as the Cook Islands Rugby Union President, Womens & Junior Development Lead, Treasurer, National Mens Sevens Manager and National Mens 15’s Manager. During her time Ashleigh was part of the planning and implementation of programs for community initiatives amongst many other key areas that helped to engage local communities to support sustainable growth across all areas of the game.

Ashleigh says, “I was excited to be a part of Rugby For Life because I believe that first and foremost sport can be used as a platform to engage with, empower, develop and connect communities.” She is a passionate, collaborative, and skilled professional with proven experience working in sport with community engagement at the forefront and Rugby For Life is very excited to have her on board!

Ashleigh Wihongi


Tuck Waaka Image
Tuck Waaka is a well-known New Zealand rugby personality with a long history with our country’s most loved game. Born in Masterton, at a young age Tuck relocated to the Hokianga with his whanau. In Tuck’s own words; “I grew up in a rugby mad family!” His brothers played for Hokianga and Northland and his sister Cheryl represented NZ as a Black Fern.
Over the years Tuck was 1st XV captain for Northland College, a rep for Otago University under 19s, Otago, and was the winning captain for Bay of Plenty the inaugural year of the ITM cup (NPC). Tuck was also captain for the NZ Māori team and won the Ranfurly Shield while playing with Northland.
With a deep understanding of how rugby can benefit communities; becoming a part of Rugby for Life seemed a natural progression for Tuck. He feels that; “Rugby clubs can provide opportunities for tamariki to engage in physical activity, learn valuable life skills and develop a sense of belonging. The clubs are also a great place to promote health and wellbeing programmes and community engagement.” We are very fortunate to have Tuck’s firsthand experience, knowledge and wisdom integrated into the pillars of Rugby for Life.

Tuck Waaka


Nigel, originally from the Hawkes Bay, played age-group representative in both rugby and cricket. He went to Otago University in the early 1990’s playing senior grade rugby. After graduating he left to develop a career in finance in London. A passionate kiwi, he loves all sport and what it can do for communities. Nigel is currently developing the Rugby For Life relationships in Europe. He is working with kiwis to reconnect and give back to grassroots rugby and its community in Northland. Nigel’s father Graeme played hooker in the 1966 season for Mid-Western club in Maungakaramea whilst on a work placement which contributes to his passion to help communities in the far North.

Nigel Armstrong


Bronwyn Williamson2
RFL has been the only programme to deliver real value with outcomes, personnel, and monetary contributions towards helping our clubs be sustainable. The need is huge yet our volunteers are struggling. People want to be part of something special that does good and RFL is demonstrating that positive outcomes for the community comes from collective support.

Bronwyn Williamson


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Strength is the people; strength is the tribe. When we give them opportunities, the strength goes to the clubs and communities. RFL has helped to provide many significant outcomes for clubs and especially the community around Take 2 for the Team. Empowering Club Coordinators to do what’s right for the whānau and community will ensure club sustainability. Iwi – Nga Puhi

Paul Scott


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Cameron is the Chief Executive of the Northland Rugby Union. He is a passionate Northlander, leading a team to grow our community rugby and establish pathways that enhance individuals and grow Northland.

Cameron Bell


Craig Wells2
Volunteers are crucial to our communities and RFL are helping to provide a vital link with the clubs as hubs model between rugby and whānau to help them thrive. From helping kids gain their drivers license that leads to employment to supporting more Club Coordinators, RFL saw the need and took action to help solve real problems. Iwi – Te Aroha and

Craig Wells


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Clark has been part of the rugby fabric in Te Tai Tokerau for too many years to count and a proud Rugby For Life supporter.
As the Operations Manager for Rugby For Life Clark is there to support, manage and evolve our coordinator structure and take our program and community impacts to the next level.

For Clark, "Rugby is definitely more than just a game and can be a vehicle to many positive outcomes within our communities, which is why I believe in this Kaupapa. I have been a player, captain, coach, sponsor, committee member and a treasurer of a club as well as working for the Union so trust me when I say first-hand that I know how hard volunteers work within clubs and Rugby For Life is a gamechanger!”

Clark Lewis


I saw the fantastic impact rugby had on my boy and knew RFL was all about community and kids and that I had to be involved. We had a recent life-changing experience when we took the kids to a rugby match and they met the Taniwha as many had never been to a game before. We are creating opportunities and pathways. Iwi – Ngapuhi

Aimee Ruka


RFL is a community organisation that is helping to grow a healthy rugby culture. I am personally interested in making a positive impact and looking at the bigger picture of where we go next. We have big social issues here and RFL is using sports and the club to bring people together.

Josefina Maratea


Our club is focused on kids. Sport is really important for the kids and the community. We support the volunteers too, for without them, our club would not exist. RFL is a wicked initiative that helps lots of people and I am proud to be a part of it.

Claire Milner


We work together for the good of the community. The culture at the club is good and we are supporting volunteers to make the club more efficient. We are keeping the doors open off-season with Friday night dinners where everyone is welcome to host community links and summer events. We dedicate our time to the growth of the players that leads to whānau benefits.

Roxanne Kelly


Lauren Clark
Lauren grew up in the Hikurangi and Whangaruru area and has been involved with the club in different positions for a few years now after returning to Northland with her family.

She brings a wealth of experience to the Rugby For Life whānau, and with a background in various community, youth support and teaching roles, she's an amazing addition to our team. Her qualifications in early childhood and community services are the foundation of her commitment to making a difference in her community and to Rugby For Life. As a Rugby For Life coordinator Lauren’s keen “to support children in becoming the best that they can be and to make a positive impact on their lives.

Lauren Clark


RFL has helped us understand what we need to do and offers perspective and networks that connect us to the right people. We started with a couple of kids teams and this year we had 7 teams with 86 kids. We will always have a need in our isolated community. Having rugby available and accessible with the focus on children first and foremost is essential. Iwi – Te Uri O Hau

Fiona Raymond


RFL helps to bring my community together and we are now able to move forward at a faster pace. It is necessary and important to have a dedicated paid person to apply for funding and help grow the game. We are a small community about to make big changes by allowing easier access for women and organising touch rugby and a 7’s tournament. Ahipara is a club that looks after whānau.
Iwi – Te Aroha

Georgina Lidgard


RFL is helping us breathe life into our club that brings people in our community together. We have amazing volunteers and need funding to enhance the culture of our community. We see RFL helping us to provide healthier living and the club as a positive space for our people to be free. Iwi – Ngati Kahi Ki – Whangaroa and Ngapuhi Ki - Whangaroa

Nyze Manuel


Bryar Crewther-Abraham from Aupori RFSC is the coordinator for Rugby For Life’s northernmost club.

Bryar was born in Kaitaia and moved to West Auckland at a young age, completing her school there. During her time in West Auckland Bryar was very fortunate to have access to a variety of sports and given many opportunities to compete in school, club and representative tournaments.

In 2016 she returned home and says she has never looked back! Upon her return though while volunteering in local sports clubs, she quickly realised just how isolated rural communities were and how they were not afforded the same opportunities as those living in larger areas. She also quickly noticed that Aupori’s clubrooms are in serious need of maintenance and upgrades to be able to effectively cater for and support her community.

Looking for ways to help improve things Bryar was keen to become a part of Rugby For Life and receive some much-needed support. “I was really excited when the opportunity arose to become an RFL coordinator knowing I would be able to increase support for our club and community.”

Bryar Crewther-Abraham


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Paddy Jackson is the Rugby For Life Coordinator with Ruawai JMB Rugby Football Club. Growing up in the Rodney district Paddy has always been involved in sport.

Paddy has a strong ethos around the long-term maintenance of players' physical and mental well-being. Looking after yourself properly will allow you to keep playing for longer. “Just seeing any player, of any level learning new skills, and techniques and following a pathway to improving; it’s a privilege to be a part of that journey. Watching those positive changes first-hand is the stuff that keeps you engaged and invested.” Through his role as a Rugby For Life coordinator, he’s keen to keep tamariki and the whanau engaged in sport for longer to ensure the sustainability of sport in Ruawai.

Paddy Jackson


Our Partners

We are dedicated to enriching the lives of all Northlanders

What’s next?

Get off the bench

  • Tomarata Rugby Club

    Had an outstanding fun/rally day - Tomorata has new registrations and as a result of their fun day have some interested girls.

  • Kaikohe Rugby Club

    Thanks for all the mahi I got loads of calls yesterday from Facebook post. We did get a good turn out. Thanks again.

    Cheryl Smith
  • Hikurangi Rugby Club

    So stoked they got 25 under 14's, they haven't had an IMB team before – (we) got 150 kids.


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Encouraging positive health, education and employment pathways to empower generational change in our Northland community