Ruben Love has created a unique piece of history.
The Year 13 student at Palmerston North Boys’ High School has become the first player selected in both the New Zealand Under-18 Māori rugby and cricket teams.
The Under-18 cricket side has only just been convened and Love admits he had no idea the side even existed.
“I got a message from Manawatu cricket saying I’d been selected. I’ve never met the coach [long-serving Cricket Wellington coach Mark Borthwick] and I’m not sure who's idea it is, but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Love is a wicketkeeper-batsman in his third year in the Palmerston North BHS First XI. His highest score is 106 against Napier Boys’ High School, while he made 100 last month in the Manawatu men’s Premier competition.
Love is one of only four Year 13’s in the First XI. He concedes the team underachieved at the Super 8 tournament in January, embarrassingly bowled out for 26 against New Plymouth Boys’ High School, but things are starting to come right.
“We went through a rough patch, but we kept the Challenge Shield by drawing against Napier Boys’ and the younger boys are improving each week,” Love observed.
The National Māori team was selected by long-term Northern Districts’ administrator Pat Malcon and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Talent Identification Manager Paul Wiseman. It will be coached by Mark Borthwick.
NZC Network and Participation Advisor Andrew Tara said the introduction of the Māori Schools side was part of his organisation’s push to better connect with Māori. There were 46
nominations for selection and Love’s maturity and consistency has earned him a place for the one-off fixture against a Governor General’s XI on March 7 at Karori Park in Wellington.
“I think we’ve got a pretty exciting team. I’m know Ollie White from Auckland Grammar pretty well. He’s a good player,” Love acclaimed.
The team will stay at the Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay and at Mana College, the former site a residence of the successful Under-18 Maori rugby team which Love was part of last year.
“The Māori Rugby team was special. We spent two weeks together and by the end of the campaign we were like family. I hope the cricket team is the same in teaching us our Māori history and bringing the boys together,” Love enthused.
Love scored a dramatic intercept try in the Māori team's shock 21-20 win over the New Zealand Barbarians (see footage of this try below), but missed the second match against Fiji with a hematoma in the quad.
Love is a fullback and wing in the winter and has been training with the Boys’ High First XV in addition to cricket. Love warns the First XV is building a “good vibe” a dozen players back from 2018.
Love isn’t a fluent Te Reo speaker but insists Māori culture is a big part of his life and his understanding of his ethnicity has grown hugely in the past 12 months.
“My whanau in Wellington are all fluent speakers and I hope to learn some day. I’m really proud of my heritage. I learned a new perspective of our history with the rugby team last year,” Love shared.
The New Zealand Māori Schools Cricket team is:
Above: Love Scoring an intercept try for the NZ Māori U18 rugby team against the NZ Schools Barbarians last September.
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