In September, Michael Manson from Otago Boys’ High School went viral on the internet after scoring a freakish try for the New Zealand Barbarians Rugby XV against Australia.
With five minutes remaining, and down 10-25, Manson launched a hopeful counter-attack from close to his own goal line.
“I hadn’t seen much of the ball so I tried to think outside of the box and get involved,” Manson reflected.
“I kicked the ball behind a forward and got the bounce and thought, ‘you beauty.’ When I kicked it ahead again there was a defender in front of me and I thought, ‘bugger.’ Luckily I had the speed to get around the forward. When I scored I couldn’t really believe it, it was totally euphoric,” he said.
Manson was promoted to the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ team for their tilt at Australia and in December will partake in the Red Bull Ignite 7s, a programme designed to find “the next All Blacks and Black Ferns superstars.”
From Cromwell, Manson is from a family of sprinters and has only this year fully committed to rugby.
Manson is the Otago Boys’ High School senior 100 metres (m) sprint champion and holds the school record for the discipline.
In fact Manson is ranked in the top three Under-18 sprinters in the South Island and has a personal best of 10.8 seconds.
In 2017, Manson was the youngest member of the Otago Boys’ 4x100m relay team who won the National gold medal.
In 2019 he was the lead runner on the same team that won the South Island 4x100m relay championship.
“I’ve always been quick, but I’m lucky to have had some great coaches who have broken down my technique and helped me go faster,” Mason says.
“I came down to Otago Boys’ for more sporting opportunities. Rugby has taken over this year, but sprinting has given me some great opportunities and helped my rugby,” he continued.
Manson has proved to be a prolific try scorer on the wing for the Otago Boys’ First XV. He scored three tries in the South Island final last year, but Otago lost that game.
In 2019 he was the leading try scorer in the region. A second-half strike in the annual traditional against Christchurch Boys’ High School was particularly enjoyable.
“We were down 14-0 at halftime and our captain Tevita Asi spoke about gaining revenge on the team who ended our season last year. We just hit a zone after that. It was incredible. I don’t think anyone would have beaten us,” Manson enthused.
In the same fixture Otago wore pink socks in a campaign to protest and raise awareness of bullying.
“That was a nice gesture to highlight a serious problem,” Manson said.
“People look up to the First XV and if the First XV can make a stand against bullying then hopefully that will stop some of it.”
In December, Manson won’t be present at the National Secondary Schools Athletics Championships at Newtown Park, Wellington, but Otago will have a strong presence.
George Hamilton, Cameron Moffitt and Jacob Waide are three names worth keeping an eye on.
Hamilton is the school record holder in the Under-14 1500m. All-rounder Moffitt is the Under-16, 100m, 200m, long jump, discus and shot put champion, smashing the school shot put record of 12.77m set event by R.J. Dryden in 1974. The new distance is 13.79m.
Jacob Waide holds the school Under-14 shot put, long jump and 100m titles.
College Sport Media (CSNZ) thanks the One Foundation for their assistance with this and other stories in 2019.
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