Sports correspondent & historian
Last week Sideline Sid and Mrs Sid took off for a few days of R&R in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
One of Sid's missions in the last few years while on holiday, has been to visit places off the beaten track, that he has never been to before.
On a beautiful Wednesday morning, the two holiday makers took off to drive to Galatea for a gander.
From the flat of the Edgecumbe plains, through the forestry around the Matahina Dam to the dairying district of Galatea, showcased some of the beautiful country that we live in.
A sign in Galatea got Sideline Sid thinking about one of the cornerstones of Bay of Plenty and New Zealand society.
The sign pointed the way to the Galatea Rugby Club, which on inspection revealed club rooms of a size that would do many city clubs proud.
The rugby club on the extremities of the Rotorua region makes a statement to visiting teams, with goalposts the size of telegraph poles.
Perusal of the annual Bay of Plenty Rugby Union handbook, revealed the size and diversity of our region, through the various rugby clubs in the Bay of Plenty.
Living in the Western Bay of Plenty, it's easy forget the other people that weld our region together.
The Rugby Union handbook tells us that the provinces rugby clubs stretch from Reporoa in the south to (Te Whanau) Apanui club on the East Coast at Te Kaha.
One of the oldest rugby clubs in the region at Katikati guards our northern border, while the Ruatoki club sits in the Urewera foothills.
Within the last decade, Reporoa travelled to Te Kaha to play Apanui in a Baywide qualifying competition game.
A media report of the game, described it as the cow cockies of Reporoa taking on the cray fishermen of Te Kaka, which nicely summed up the diversity of our region.
Another uniquely Bay of Plenty rugby club is found on Matakana Island.
The other Western Bay Reserve Grade teams always look forward to the barge trip and the banquet provided on the Island.
However, one thing that never changes is the rivalry between the two Bay of Plenty cities.
Dating back to when the first teams ventured over what were no more than bullock tracks, there has been a intense desire from Rotorua sides to win the battle with Tauranga region sides and vice versa.
While Sideline Sid is currently enjoying the cricket season and is looking forward to club rugby kicking off in mid-March.
After recent years lack of success with the crystal ball, this seasoned rugby watcher has decided to preview some early crucial match-ups in the Baywide Premier title race, to identify the early contenders.
Te Puna hosts Whakarewarewa at Maramatanga Park on the opening day of the season, where the Rotorua side will surely want to put last season's poor form behind them where they failed to make the top eight.
Another interesting clash on the opening day of the Baywide club rugby year on theMarch 18, is the replay of last year's Baywide Premier final between Rangataua and Mount Maunganui.
It will be interesting to see if Rangataua can back up from their first Baywide premier crown.
The following weekend, Rangataua meet multiple champions in Tauranga Sports at the Tauranga Domain, while Rotoiti could get a reality check when they play Te Puna who finished just outside the top four last season.
2011 and 2012 premier titleholders Te Puke Sports don't have an easy start, with their first two 2017 Baywide encounters against Greerton Marist and Mount Maunganui.
Seeya at the Cricket and the Rugby.