Kiwi Hawthorn Junior Rugby

Come and try Rugby

Our Team

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Mark Russell has played rugby for longer than anyone can remember. He grew up in New Zealand and played at the Tawa Junior Rugby Football Club in Wellington, continuing at Tawa College before returning to complete his playing days with the Tawa Rugby Football Club.

After 25 years of playing and coaching rugby in Tawa he moved to Melbourne in 1998 where he now lives in Hawthorn with his wife and two boys. Mark is a qualified juniors coach, coaches our U11s team and also acts as Head of our Juniors Program.

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Phil Brooker was born in NZ and grew up in Melbourne. At the age of 3 when he asked his father, a former president and 1st grade coach of Kiwi Hawthorn, about playing Aussie Rules he was informed, “you don’t have to play rugby if you don’t want to – you just can’t live in my house if you don’t.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, shortly after that Phil started playing rugby. He is very happy he did too as he has since discovered that living in Melbourne and playing rugby is one of the best ways to see the world and make friends from all walks of life.

Phil has played and coached senior rugby on both sides of the Tasman and represented Victoria both as a player and later as a coach and as a selector. He is now stepping up to the challenge of coaching in the Kiwi Hawthorn junior program (the fastest growing junior club in Melbourne).

Phil lives in Hawthorn East with his wife and two kids and is hoping to see them and their friends get as much out of the game as he has been lucky to receive.

Phil is the coach of our U15 Girls Touch7s team.

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Pete Taitoko was born in New Zealand and grew up playing rugby for his beloved Tokoroa Rugby Football Club. Leaving NZ in 1987, Pete has lived and worked on most continents playing, watching and supporting the great game.

Pete & his wife Claire live in Kew with their children who attend school in Hawthorn and both play rugby for Kiwi Hawthorn Juniors.  Pete is the coach of our Girls U11s Touch7s team.


Claire Taitoko grew up in South Australia, playing netball and supporting AFL and served on the board of the Albury Tigers Football and Netball Club in her younger years. She had great hopes that her daughter would be a netballer too. However, after her husband Pete introduced her to the great game of rugby and both children became obsessed with the game like their father, she decided to get on board and is now an active supporter and follower of Rugby Union.

Along with being our Child Welfare Officer, Claire is the current Women and Girls Program Leader on the Junior Committee of the Kiwi Hawthorn Rugby Club.  She has a particular interest in encouraging our female players of all ages to give rugby a go and excel.

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Justin Bown was born and raised in Victoria and played rugby at a schoolboy and state representative level a long time ago.  He is a qualified juniors coach, coaches our U12s and acts as Secretary of Kiwi Hawthorn Rugby Club.

He lives in Hawthorn with his wife and son and daughter, both current junior players.

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