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Central to Ellesmere’s 15-3 win against North Canterbury in the Southbridge Shield match recently was the presence of the McIlroy and Pietzner brothers.
It is not unusual for two brothers to appear in a representative team together, although it is less common for two sets of brothers to appear in the same team. You might think of the Whettons and the Brookes in the great Auckland teams of the 1980s and 1990s.
Anyhow, for some time now the Pietzners and the McIlroys have dominated Ellesmere rugby to such an extent that the blues have had some of their best years in the sub-union’s proud history.
Prop Scott McIlroy and flanker Blair McIlroy come out of the Darfield club and have been central to that club’s rise in the last few seasons. Scott was particularly prominent at Leeston against North Canterbury, not only being noticeable with the ball in hand, but also by kicking a penalty from 45 metres out when the game was in the balance. Blair meanwhile was one of Ellesmere’s best.
“It’s always wonderful to be part of an Ellesmere side that wins the Southbridge Shield and this season was no different,” Scott says. “It is even more special when you are playing with your twin brother alongside you.”
Scott says that having played throughout the grades with Blair he often knows what Blair is going to do before he does it. “Although we play in different positions we often do know what each other are going to do.”
And what about that kick? “Although it is not the first time I have kicked a goal in an important match, I don’t practice at all,” Scott laughs. “It is all natural.” Scott says that part of the reason that Ellesmere has been so successful in recent seasons has been the fact that it is very much a family side. “There is terrific atmosphere in the squad and that is certainly helped I think by the fact that some of us are related.” Scott says that neither he nor Blair have any thoughts of retiring in the near future.
The Pietzner brothers are unique in that they play for different clubs – hooker Gareth plays for Waihora, while half-back Jason plays for Lincoln. “In my year Waihora did not have a side and so I went and played for Lincoln,” Jason recalls. “As we lived in Tai Tapu, Gareth (who is a year younger) continued playing for Waihora.”
Jason says that it is nice to play with his brother at representative level. “We are so used to playing against each other, but it is nice to get together with Ellesmere. We will be at war again next week with our clubs.” Jason laughs.
It is also nice for the parents of the Pietzner brothers, who during the club season are torn between Waihora and Lincoln. “They certainly support Ellesmere,” Jason laughs. He says that the joy of winning the Southbridge Shield never dies and that both he and Gareth hope to continue playing for Ellesmere together for many seasons to come.
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