16 September 2019
Southland man Jared Deal and the New Zealand Defence Force rugby team have made a winning start to the International Defence Rugby Competition, beating the Australian Defence Force 47-35 in Japan on Sunday.
After the teams were level at 14-all at halftime the New Zealand team, known as the Defence Blacks, pulled clear to lead 47-21 with 10 minutes to go, then withstood a late flurry by the Australians.
In the semi-finals on Thursday the Defence Blacks will play the powerful defending champions Fiji, who have 10 former Fijian internationals in their squad.
The International Defence Rugby Competition is the military equivalent of the World Cup.
The Defence Blacks, comprising servicemen from the Royal New Zealand Navy, New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force, plus one civilian, are playing against military teams from Australia, United Kingdom, Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Georgia, Japan and France.