The Chiefs U18 Development squad to match up against the Crusaders and Blues Under 18 sides this Saturday, 13 July.
Team Messam will make the trip south to Blenheim to take on the Crusaders Under 18’s at Lansdowne Park. While Team Clarke will host the Blues Under 18’s at St Paul’s Collegiate. Both games will kick off at 12.30pm.
The teams are:
A curious thing happened when the Hurricanes Under-18 training squad was recently announced for their annual development camp in Napier.
Traditional powerhouses Wellington College and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream only had a single selection; Wellington loose forward Flynn Crampton.
Scots College haven’t won the Premiership since 2014, and accounted for eight of the 15 selections from the capital.
How can a school that has won just a solitary open weight title in the past four years (Scots second XV are the reigning Premier 4 champions) be so heavily represented in a major representative squad?
What’s going on in Wellington Secondary School rugby? Anecdotally, the standard of the First XV premiership is the worst it’s been. Numbers are falling in most grades and solutions for improvement aren’t necessarily straightforward.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is looking to implement a new governance structure for secondary school rugby (this year), to be followed by a new strategy (in 2020) to build player numbers.
Wellington provides a vivid insight into many of the challenges the game faces.
Rugby is decreasing in popularity. Since 2012, boys teams across Wellington have decreased by 18.3%, (minus 20 teams, or around minus 440 players). More alarmingly:
· Since 2012, open weight Premier teams have fallen by 19%, (minus 9 teams).
· Since 2012, non-Premier open weight age-grade teams have fallen by 47%, (minus 17 teams).
Tumbling numbers isn’t just a Wellington trend. Between 2013-2018, the number of teams in Auckland fell from 225 to 181. In North Harbour numbers are even more drastic, with a third of teams vanishing in the past five seasons.
Why are boys not playing rugby? The NZR Secondary Schools Rugby review identified several reasons, the most interesting of which are contained in a student feedback section and include:
The Wellington College First XV is suffering the worst run of results in its history. This season they are in grave danger of missing the top four of the Premiership for the first time.
In the past three years Wellington’s First XV have been the victims of record defeats against Hastings Boys’ High School, St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, Scots College, Nelson College, Christ’s College, Feilding High School and Palmerston North Boys’ High School.
In the past five years Wellington has experienced embarrassing stumbles against Kapiti College, Hutt International Boys’ School and Wairarapa College.
Why should we be concerned? Wellington College is by some distance the capital's largest state boys school and therefore provides a vivid illustration of boys sporting preferences. Wellington has a national reputation for being traditionally powerful in rugby.
Wellington won the Premiership as recently as 2016, which might suggest Wellington is on a temporary rebuilding cycle. However, Wellington losing more games than it wins was almost unthinkable a few short years ago.
Despite having a relatively healthy 10 teams at present, closer inspection of the programme suggests a rapidly weakening First XV was only a matter of time.
Between 2010 and 2016, aside from the First XV, the only open weight title success was the Under-15A’s, which captured the Division I title in 2010.
Contrast that with St Pat’s Town who have won six open weight grades since 2014 and Silverstream, who have won a dozen.
Anecdotally, “small white boys from Khandallah and Kaori” are avoiding rugby like the plague and don’t have the size to compete at the heavier levels.
In 2018, Wellington enjoyed a very fruitful sporting year. Wellington are the national cricket, swimming and futsal champions; a staggering 576 boys play the latter code. Additionally, Wellington athletes won half a dozen medals at the National Track & Field Championships.
Rugby is no longer king at Col.
Non competitive Games
One of the arguments presented in favour of increasing the Premiership grade from eight teams to ten was to expose more players to the highest level and thus boost the standard and competitiveness of the competition. Despite honourable intentions, the opposite has proven true.
Between 2012 and 2016, just under half (84) of all Premiership fixtures were decided by 20 points or more.
Since expansion there have been 130 games of which 77 (59%) have been settled by 20 points or more. On top of that there have been two defaults and a century posted by St Pat’s Town.
This past weekend Kapti was beaten 106-3 by Silverstream in a nonsense of a contest in which Kapti left out half a dozen of their leading players, an acknowledgment they were beaten before they'd started. This Saturday, Hutt International Boys’ School will default their fixture against St Pat’s Town citing a “shortage of player numbers.”
Silverstream have won the Premiership the past two years by an average winning score of 53-7. When Silverstream won in 2012, their average winning score was 23-11. Granted Silverstream upset a formidable Wellington College outfit in the final, but even Wellington’s average winning score that year was only 26-7.
Unusually, between 2010-2015, the school which finished first in the round robin failed to win the Premiership.
The NZR Secondary Schools Rugby Review identified uncompetitive competitions as a major force for driving students away from the game. There were complaints being consistently beaten by large scores results in a loss of enjoyment and motivation.
The review also recommended NZR establishes a clear definition of which grades are considered performance grades, with all other grades recognised as existing primarily to maximise the appeal and benefit to participants.
The shape a ‘high performance’ grade would take is uncertain, but clearly the Wellington Premiership is drifting away from ‘high performance’ with so many one-sided games.
The Rise of Scots College
In 2009, Scots First XV lost to the Wellington College 2nd XV in the Premier II final. Five years later Scots were the National champions.
The only other team at the school to win a grade in that five year period was the 2nd XV who won the lowly Premier 5 grade in 2012 and Premier 4 the next season.
Since 2010, Scots have won a mere six College Sport Wellington grades.
How have Scots, with a small roll (slightly over 500) and little reputation for rugby, become such a force in the First XV Premiership?
The answer is simple: greater coaching resources and more rugby-playing students joining the school.
In 2014, eight players were on scholarship in the Scots starting XV that beat Silverstream 21-18 in the Premiership final.
Under current eligibility rules a First XV is allowed no more than five players that are “new to school.” A “new to school" tag is carried for two years, while internationals never shrug the title. Essentially, done methodically with enough planning and forethought, a third of your team can still be imported.
The best way to consistently build a powerful team with little strength below (Scots don’t even have an Under-15’s side) is to recruit by specific positions or attract top juniors and expose them to superior training while they effectively bide their time making the First XV.
There are, of course, benefits for some boys who gain scholarships, like receiving a better education and coaching. And universally chastising boys and their families for accepting scholarships is nothing more than petulant.
Perhaps the demands of a younger and more complex professional game necessitates programs like Scots. The expertise and resources to prepare players for the next level simply doesn't exist across multiple schools?
There is nothing in the present rules to prevent Scots or others (uninhibited from zoning laws, a whole separate issue) from constructing a First XV in an obviously top-down fashion.
However, having a side monopolise leading talent without any growth in the lower grades appears to harm the game. The NRZ Secondary Schools Rugby review identified scholarships as a factor in driving boys away from the sport.
Inexplicably Scots lost their points from a first round win against Rongotai College this season for erring in the number of “new school” players they had in the 22. This was a staggering oversight given Scots is coached by a paid Rugby Director whose a member of the Wellington Schools Secondary Schools Executive and New Zealand Schools coaching staff.
It’s interesting to note the tightening of eligibility rules in the 1A Auckland competition has had a noticeable impact on the competitiveness of the results.
In 2018, 62% of all games were decided by 20 points or more. After eight rounds this year that figure had dropped to 46%.
Ironically, Saint KentigernCollege, the target of much criticism for their flagrant poaching, suffered their first 20-plus point hiding in well over a decade when they were thumped 52-19 by King’s College, another school accused of overtly aggressive recruiting practices.
I changed "six" to "eight" here:
Nelson College held off waves of late Whanganui Collegiate attack on their own line to beat them 13-7 and win the 93rd Quadrangular Tournament in atrocious conditions at Wellington College this afternoon.
After scoring the only points of the second spell soon after halftime through second five-eighth Louis Carmine, and with wind and rain closing in, Nelson were forced into defensive mode for much of the rest of the game.
Whanganui, through their committed ball runners, led by No. 8 Semi Verdoese and bustling hooker Ben Strang, closed out the match hot on attack on Nelson’s line. There were at least four clear chances to score plus a charge-down of a clearing kick but all were repelled by Nelson whose unwavering defence held firm.
Earlier, it was Whanganui who scored the game’s first try after a break into the 22 and subsequent forwards momentum sending lock Hunter Morrison over the whitewash. Second five-eighth Te Atawhai Mason guided the conversion through with the wind and they led 7-3 late in the half.
Nelson created momentum and their forwards were held up over the line, forcing a 5-metre scrum, from which halfback Mason Lund made a dart and scored to put them up 8-7 at halftime.
Nelson won the tourney for the 26th time (five shared) overall and the third time in the past five years.
The last final to feature Nelson and Whanganui prior to today was in 1996 when Nelson also won 29-15. The last time Whanganui beat Nelson in a final was 33-9 in 1974.
The last time Whanganui won a final was in 1991, the year Ed Sheeran was born and Bryan Adams was top of the Billboard charts.
Home side Wellington College could count themselves unlucky not to beat Christ’s College in the playoff for third and fourth, which finished up as an 18-18 draw. Conditions were dry throughout the first-half of this match, but both sides struggled in the difficult crosswind and in the rain when it arrived at halftime.
Christ’s went ahead 5-0 early through a try to prop Liam Pratt, before both sides kicked a penalty to advance the score to 8-3.
About five minutes before halftime, Christ’s halfback Max Goulter scored a try from a 5-metre scrum to extend their lead to 15-3. But Wellington College scored a timely try in reply to blindside flanker Oscar Quin. The conversion made it 15-10 at the turnaround.
Wellington flyhalf Jacob Waikiri-Jones closed the gap to 15-13 with a penalty, as his forwards dug deeper and pushed Christ’s close several times. Christ’s gave away several penalties and eventually had a man sent to the sin-bin. In his absence, Wellington came up with what appeared to be the winning try to hooker Chris Bramley.
But Christ’s had one final raid up into opposition territory and second five-eighth Shun Miyake kicked a penalty to level it up to 18-18.
The last draw in the third-place playoff was in 2013 when Christ’s shared an 18-18 draw with Whanganui Collegiate. The last draw between Wellington and Christ’s was a 15-15 tie in the same fixture in 1996. Wellington have still never finished outright fourth in consecutive years at the Quad.
Day one (Monday) reports:
Whanganui Collegiate: 32 v Wellington College: 5
Whanganui Collegiate defeated Wellington College for the first time since 1996; earning their biggest win against the hosts since 1927 with a sometimes impressive, often dogged display.
Whanganui effectively won the game in the first ten minutes leaping to a 15-0 lead.
An early handling error by Wellington enabled Whanganui to enter the Wellington 22 and kick a penalty.
Whanganui No.8 Semi Vodosese proved explosive at times and a 60-meter burst by the Fijian was the catalyst for a try to bustling hooker Ben Strang.
Te Atawhai Mason produced a classy display. Not only was his goal kicking near faultless with five success from six attempts, but searing pace saw the Whanganui second-five score the visitors second try from a charge down and 40-meter pursuit.
Wellington enjoyed obvious superiority in the scrum, but a lack of pace and precision in the backline meant little reward materialised.
No.8 Flynn Crampton did close the gap to 15-5 at halftime, but Whanganui was successful in foiling most of Wellington’s attack, despite losing a player to the sin bin.
Wellington rejected a number of kickable penalties and were made to pay dearly midway through the second-half when Mason slipped his marker to complete a double.
Vodosese completed the scoring when he strode clear just before fulltime.
Lock Joseph Abernethy and captain Kenry Kilmster on the blindside were other standouts for Collegiate.
For Wellington, hooker Christopher Bramley was determined and reserve midfield back Apisaloma Tulua isn’t absent of size or ability.
Nelson College: 26 v Christ’s College: 14
In addition to qualifying for the final, Nelson College claimed maximum points in a Crusaders First XV competition fixture to go top of that competition.
Nelson never trailed on the scoreboard and that was fitting given the industry and excellence of their forwards.
In addition to scoring four tries, Nelson was held up over the line three times as they posed plenty of questions of the Christ’s defence.
Nelson’s initial breakthrough was made by lock Daniel Dixon who punched through a hole and drove 15-metres.
Nelson camped inside the Christ’s 22, but were unable to breach the reigning Quad champions defence.
Two minutes before halftime, Nelson captain Fergus Hughes crossed after supporting a break by wing Ben Faingaanuku at the halfway mark.
Disaster struck Nelson at the kickoff when a fumble was collected by Christ’s centre Will Greenslade who finished over the course of 25-metres.
Hughes was a constant threat for Nelson and a second converted try stretched the lead to 19-7.
Second-five Shun Miyake is the lynchpin of the Christ’s backline. In addition to an educated boot, he has deceptive speed and two steps and two dummies led to a brilliant solo try from past halfway to close the gap to 19-14.
Christ’s failure to build consistent forward pressure telling and when No.8 Taya Brown crashed through for Nelson’s fourth try, the contest was settled. Christ’s skipper Zach Gallagher can hold his head high in a beaten pack.
A group of over 70 secondary school players from across the Crusaders region have been selected for the Squires Development Camp next month.
The camp, organised in conjunction with New Zealand Rugby, will run from July 7– July 10 at St Andrew's College in Christchurch.
It provides an opportunity for emerging talent to learn from Crusaders and provincial union coaches and development staff, and is not limited to rugby training and skills. Educational elements of the camp include personal development, nutrition, mental skills and well-being.
Two squads will be chosen at the conclusion of the camp; one will travel to Timaru to play a Highlanders U18 side on Friday 12 July, whilst the other will head to Blenheim to play a return fixture from 2018 against the Chiefs U18 team on Saturday 13 July at Landsdowne Park. Both matches are scheduled for 12:30pm kick-offs.
The following players have been selected for the 2019 Crusaders Squires Development Camp:
Amini Toga: St Andrew's College
Anton Segner: Nelson College
Ben Innes: St Andrew's College
Ben Lopas: Christchurch Boys' High School
Callum Simpson: Christchurch Boys' High School
Charlie Murray: St Andrew's College
Clayden Paranihi: Christchurch Boys' High School
Daniel Dixon: Nelson College
Dom Clarke: St Andrew's College
Dom Gardiner: St Bede's College
Elisara Vaifale: St Thomas of Canterbury
Eto Bainivalu: St Bede's College
Fabian Holland: Christchurch Boys' High School
Fergus Hughes: Nelson College
Finn Moffat: St Bede's College
Fletcher Anderson: Christ's College
George Brown: Timaru Boys' High School
George Methven: St Bede's College
Harri Langworthy: Christchurch Boys' High School
Isaac Cotter: St Bede's College
Isaiah Malaulau: Nelson College
Isi Saumaki: St Andrew's College
Jack Harding: St Andrew's College
Jack McDonald-Hill: Nelson College
Jack Sexton: St Andrew's College
Jack Stokes: St Andrew's College
Jamie Carr: St Andrew's College
Jamie Hannah: Christchurch Boys' High School
Jermaine Pepe: Rangiora High School
Joel Parry: St Andrew's College
Josh Neilson: Rangiora High School
Justin Evans: St Bede's College
Keegan McGregor: Christchurch Boys' High School
Keelan Murrell: Marlborough Boys' College
Kynan Stowers-Smith: St Bede's College
Lino Tauti: St Andrew's College
Logan Bainbridge: St Bede's College
Louie Carmine: Nelson College
Luca Inch: Nelson College
Macca Springer: Waimea Combined (Waimea College)
Mason Lund: Nelson College
Max Goulter: Christ's College
Max Hughes: Christchurch Boys' High School
Montel Peppard: St Thomas of Canterbury
Monu Moli: Marlborough Boys' College
Netaleni Taufateau: St Thomas of Canterbury
Niko Barton: Nelson College
Ollie Lewis: Christchurch Boys' High School
Preston Marsters: Nelson College
Sailosi Rova: St Thomas of Canterbury
Sam Scott: Lincoln Combined (Ellesmere College)
Seb Calder: St Andrew's College
Shun Miyake: Christ's College
Tama Faiotonu: St Thomas of Canterbury
Taya Brown: Nelson College
Tino Vakaloa: Marlborough Boys' College
Tom Thornalley: Nelson College
Torian Barnes: St Andrew's College
Uriah Tuli: Shirley Boys' High School
Wil Gualter: Lincoln Combined (Lincoln High School)
Zach Gallagher: Christ's College
In addition to this squad, a Wider Training Group has also been selected and will be involved during the camp:
Angus Grant: St Bede's College
Brandyn Boyle: Lincoln Combined (Ellesmere College)
James Mullan: Rangiora High School
Tadeo Andriani: St Bede's College
Josh Taula: Christchurch Boys' High School
Lachie James: Rangiora High School
Patelesio Latu: Timaru Boys' High School
Thomas Schmack: Christchurch Boys' High School
Blair Ryall: Lincoln Combined (Lincoln High School)
Kole Harmer: St Thomas of Canterbury
Cameron Henderson: Christchurch Boys' High School
James Robertson: Timaru Boys' High School
Hamish Jones: St Bede's College
Caleb Beck: Rangiora High School
Christchurch Boys’ High School have defied the conditions to thrash Christ's College 31-13 in the 145th annual traditional fixture at Straven Road this afternoon.
In front of a packed and rowdy home crowd, Christchurch would have been anxious at halftime turning against the stiff breeze with a slender 10-6 lead.
However a try to hooker Clayden Paranihi, from a quick tap in the 50th minute, stretched the hosts lead to a telling 22-13 as Christ’s wilted against an opposition boasting a more hungry pack and potent backline.
Christ’s enjoyed two thirds of possession and territory in the first-half, but fell behind 10-0 after 18 minutes.
In the 12th minute Christchurch first-five Ollie Lewis opened the scoring with a 45-metre angled penalty before No.8 Cam Henderson latched onto the back of an unstoppable lineout drive to claim the first try.
Christ’s were patient with the ball, but lacked the punch of the hosts. The visitors were able to punish ill-discipline though with Shun Miyake slotting two penalties before the interval. His second effort was a tough success from 35-metres out. Miyake scored 258 points last season.
Christchurch anchored themselves in the Christ’s 22 to begin the second-half and 11 phases of attrition and precision saw lock Jammie Hannah rewarded.
Down 17-6, Christ’s salvaged the kickoff and a long riposte concluded with openside Mitchell Cox entering the scorebook. Miyake’s conversion sliced the deficit to 17-13.
Much of Christ's play was hampered by panic and inaccuracy. By contrast the Christchurch backs became gradually more elusive. Second-five Keegan McGregor was especially threatening and tighthead Ben Lopas was a destructive battering ram.
The quick thinking Paranihi propelled Christchurch to a 24-13 lead at which point Christ’s resistance considerably weakened. Christchurch centre Callum Simpson applied the exclamation mark with five minutes to spare regaining his own chip and chase.
In addition to McGregor and Lopas, Lewis was faultless of the tee and grew in stature. Paranihi produced a strong shift and lock Fabian Holland was a workhorse.
Christ’s best were captain and lock Zach Gallagher. loosehead Liam Pratt and No.8 Fletcher Anderson.
Christchurch have won 17 of the past 18 matches against Christ’s and 92 of the 145 total games. Christchurch improves to 4-1 in the UC Championship.
In other traditional matches Hamilton Boys’ High School defeated Auckland Grammar School 19-17. New Plymouth Boys’ High School thrashed St Patrick’s College, Silverstream 35-8 and Nelson College trounced Marlborough Boys’ College 48-14 to achieve their fourth win in five UC Championship games.
Above: The Crusaders Region First XV points table after today's games in Christchurch and Nelson.
For more visit www.collegerugby.co.nz
New Plymouth Boys' High School has gained a spot in the national knock-out competition with a win over cross-town rivals Francis Douglas Memorial College 21-15 this afternoon.
The victory also locks away the Carroll-George Trophy for another year and continues the bragging rights between the two Taranaki schools.
Played in front of a packed Gully, tensions were high as Boys High formed a huddle after their haka that gave Francis Douglas no opposition during their challenge.
However, Francis Douglas opened the scoring early as first five-eighth Eli Kneepkens slotted a penalty kick from right out in front.
Francis Douglas maintained the pressure as Kneepkens scored himself and slotted the subsequent conversion to lead 10-0.
Boys High got back into Francis Douglas’ half with fullback Mason Milham, who was promising all day, scored a try in the corner as the defence opened up.
First five-eighth Jack Parker was in fine form as he slotted the first of three conversions, from wide out.
With a 10-7 lead at the break, Francis Douglas didn’t appear to be switched on in the opening minutes of the second spell. Parker stabbed a beautifully weighted kick behind the Francis Douglas defence that allowed wing Jone Rova to score.
After a solid build up by Francis Douglas and some missed opportunities, hooker Mathew Picard picked up a loose ball and scored for the visitors to take the lead. Kneepkens missed the conversion.
Boys High then scored with 10 minutes remaining as loose forward George Birkett slid over the line.
When time was up Francis Douglas attempted to win the game adding pressure deep in Boys High’s half, but that wasn’t enough as the home team won a turnover and kicked the ball into touch.
Francis Douglas, who beat Palmerston North Boys' High School last week, would have been disappointed with their set piece that turned over quality ball at crucial times. However, fullback Jeremy Gopperth kicked well in general play and showed his speed.
Along with Milham, William Guthrie was strong in the midfield and carried hard throughout the match.
New Plymouth Boys High School: 21 (Milham, Rova, Birkett tries; Parker 3 con)
Francis Douglas Memorial College: 15 (Kneepkens, Picard tries; Kneepkens one pen, one con)
Mid-table has an all too familiar ring to it for Whanganui Collegiate School rugby supporters.
The First XV has had five consecutive sixth placed finishes in the Central North Island (CNI) competition, but there are promising signs that the school can improve this year and push for a top finish in the competition that kicks off in just under a fortnight.
Last year Whanganui Collegiate made the final of the Quadrangular Tournament for the first time since 2004, beating Nelson College 19-13 – which was their first win in 22 matches at the quad stretching back to 2006.
Last week Whanganui Collegiate broke another duck stretching back to 2004 – beating New Plymouth Boys’ High School. At the famous Gully ground no less.
New Whanganui Collegiate First XV Head Coach Steve Steve Simpson was pleased with the school’s 32-26 win.
“We scored six tries to their four and we only managed one conversion, so it could have been more if our kickers had been on form,” said Simpson.
New Plymouth started the match with a try in the second minute, but Whanganui bounced back with three first half tries to lead 15-7 at the break.
The second half was tit for tat and a New Plymouth try with 15 minutes to play had Whanganui head 22-21. Whanganui’s Harry Godfrey latched on a loose ball and ran 50 metres to score to make it 27-21.
Now inside the last 5 minutes, New Plymouth scored again to cut Whanganui’s lead to 27-26, before Whanganui No. 8 Semi Vodoese drew in several defenders in a powerful burst before offloading to Joe Abernathy who ran hard for the corner and passed inside to the supporting Beau Hourigan who scored the match-clincher.
This win came off the back of a recent tour to Sydney.
“We had four matches in Sydney and we won three of them,” said Simpson.
“We played games against Newington College, Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview, Trinity Grammar School and Waverley College.
“The team we lost to was Waverley College, who was Australia’s representative at the recent Sanix World Schools tournament in Japan. They made the semi-final.”
Last year’s Top 4 champions St Peter’s College, finished runners-up to South Africa’s Paul Roos at the same tournament.
Simpson has taken over coaching the team this year with Mark Godfrey, after the pair had coached the school’s U15s for the past two seasons.
Previously, he was at Francis Douglas Memorial College for nine years up to 2013 before a three-year stint working and coaching in England.
So the recent win at the Gully carried extra meaning for Simpson.
“I had a win for Francis Douglas at the Gully when the match was on Sky Sport in 2012 – so for me it was great going back with another team and winning again.”
New Plymouth Boys’ High School play in the strong Super 8 competition, which kicks off later this month.
Whilst at Francis Douglas, Simpson coached some well-known players.
“I coached all five of the Barretts. When we flew to Sydney recently I bumped into Jordie and Beaudy and Du Plessis Kirifi and Ricky Riccitelli at the airport. They had just flown up from Dunedin from playing the Highlanders and we were heading over to Australia.”
In the first year of CNI, Francis Douglas were second to Lindisfarne College and in 2013 they won it, beating St Paul’s Collegiate in the final.
This year, Whanganui Collegiate have two scheduled pre-season traditionals against Te Aute and Hato Paroa Colleges over the next two Wednesdays (although at the time of publishing this the Te Aute College match is likely to match to be re-scheduled following a death in the Te Aute rugby community) before opening their CNI campaign away against Wesley College on Saturday 18 May. Wesley joined CNI in 2016 and as yet Whanganui hasn’t beaten them.
Some other CNI matches double as traditional fixtures – including against Francis Douglas on Queen’s Birthday Weekend in New Plymouth - while they will be heading to Wellington College from 1-3 July to play in the 93rd annual Quadrangular Tournament.
Whanganui Collegiate will be playing the host school in the first match, while Christ’s College and Nelson College will meet in the other on the opening day. Whanganui haven’t won Quad since 1991.
Simpson said that the Whanganui squad is well-balanced this year, with nine players returning from 2018.
“We have got a good forward pack and some exciting backs, so we feel we have got potential in our squad. Against New Plymouth, we scored six tries and I took Francis Douglas to the Gully a few times and we never scored that many.”
Blindside flanker Henry Kilmister returns to captain the team, while returning hooker Ben Strang is the vice-captain and No. 8 Semi Vodosese offers punch in the forwards.
Second five-eighth Ta Atawhai Mason and fullback Beau Hourigan, who scored two tries against New Plymouth, are two backs to look out for.
Many of the players have come off a cricket season with the Wanganui Collegiate First XI, while one is a Maadi Cup rower and others have been involved in the school’s strong athletics programme in recent years.
Ben Strang (V Capt.)
Henry Kilmister (Capt.)
Te Ana Profitt
Te Atawhai Mason
Are there some changes ahead for First XV rugby?
College Sport Media has obtained an email from Steve Lancaster, NZR’s head of participation and development, that outlines a tightening up of age and eligibility rules.
At the heart of the matter is that in NZR’s view, all open-age college competitions across the country
are classified as Under 19 competitions, mostly due to the fact that players who are already 18 as of
1 January are eligible to take part. While this is reasonable, other NZR rules then prevent Under 16
(or Year 10) players from playing in those same competitions.
To get around that, some unions and competition organisers have classified their competitions as
U18, with dispensations for players already 18 years old. However NZR’s directive would appear to
put an end to that.
The rationale for these rules are sensible. In an age where player safety is becoming an increasing
focus, addressing the physical and mental disparities that exist between developing and developed
bodies is at the forefront of that. Differences in size, like between props and locks, and half and
fullbacks, is an accepted part of the game but NZR’s view is that older players are better equipped to
deal with those rather than a situation of a 19-year-old prop versus a 15-year-old halfback.
While this is unlikely to have an effect in the major First XV competitions, an outright ban on players
who aren’t 16 when the school year starts could have dire consequences for the large number of
schools up and down the country that struggle to put out a First or Second XV each week.
When participation numbers are falling that could be a further death knell for the game in some areas.
Fortunately, with the college season almost underway, NZR have for this year decided to enforce an
interim solution requiring players already 18 to obtain a dispensation to play while they investigate
options for future years. But it seems likely that changes will be in place for 2020. Whether those are
enforcement of the current rules – e.g. Under 16s cannot play – or dispensations required for those
older than the norm for school will have to be seen.
CSM’s view is that all players should have five years of school eligibility, and those returning for a
sixth year (so-called year 14) should really be playing rugby at club level. That would take care of the issue in the main part, but whether its an option is over to NZR to consider.
Dreams of wearing the black jersey are a lot closer to becoming a reality for Wellington’s 18-year-old Dhys Faleafaga (St Mary's College, 2018), who has today been confirmed as a contracted member of the Black Ferns Sevens squad for the remainder of 2019.
Following in the footsteps of her older sister Lyric, who was in the team in 2017/18, Dhys joins the Black Ferns Sevens on the back of impressive outings for the national development team over the past two months.
Her inclusion bolsters the squad that is managing a number of injuries mid-way through their 2018/19 season.
Faleafaga said joining the Black Ferns Sevens has been a dream come true.
“I still find it a bit overwhelming; these are players that I have looked up to and now I am training alongside them.
“I didn’t realise how much there was to learn as a professional athlete. At the moment I just want to soak up everything and work towards making my debut,” said Faleafaga.
Faleafaga was one of 28 players who were the first to ever earn Black Ferns contracts, while still at school. Although still uncapped for the Black Ferns 15s team, her impressive history included taking St Mary’s College to a first ever national 1st XV title, and debuting for the Wellington Pride in the Farah Palmer Cup.
High Performance Sevens Manager Tony Philp said being able to bring in a player with Dhys’ potential was a great opportunity to create further depth in the programme.
“Dhys has been identified as having a big future in the game and has been involved in both the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens environments.
“Bringing her in fulltime into the Black Ferns Sevens squad will expose her to the professional side of the game and give her access to the best coaching and conditioning as she develops her game.”
Faleafaga’s elevation is the latest in a number of players who have graduated from the development programme to the full Black Ferns Sevens squad.
“We can’t stress enough how important our development programmes are in identifying and nurturing talent. Dhys is the perfect example of a player that has stepped up from provincial sevens into the development programme and showed she has the ability to take that next step.
“It’s also another example of how the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens programmes can work together as we develop our players across both formats,” said Philp.
Faleafaga joins the 20 fully contracted Black Ferns Sevens players that are based in Mt Maunganui. She is one of four players in the squad that finished school in 2018.
The unusual nature of St Peter’s season was best exemplified by an absurd incident en route to the National Top Four in Palmerston North. Niko Jones captures the drama.
“We pulled up on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere because there was snow on the ground. Most of us Polynesians have never seen snow before so we rushed off the bus in bare feet and started a snow fight. We were giggling like schools girls. It was the funniest thing.”
St Peter’s was a team with a habit of defying conventions and Top Four weekend was no exception.
“That was honestly one the best weeks I’ve had. I remember meeting the boys from Rangiora on Saturday, most of whom were Pakeha. When our Poly boys started singing they all joined in. They were really gracious and cool,” Jones enthused.
Song, brotherhood and what Jones called “street rugby” are distinguishing features of St Peter’s triumph.
“We weren’t a picture prefect team. We had guys who would turn up late, would fall behind the eight ball during games, but we had a lot of raw talent and a licence to express ourselves. When we got on a roll it was a lot of fun,” Jones explains.
At times Jones appeared to be picture perfect talent. The inspirational skipper was the only member of the team selected for the New Zealand Schools’ - starting in the 26-12 win against Australia in Brisbane. However, Jones was plagued by an ankle complaint throughout much of the year and admits he often leaned on others for support.
“The senior leadership group were all experienced players and the first guys I’d approach if I had a problem, but everyone was a leader at some point. Semisi Tapa was a big talker while guys like Zyon and Chris led by example with their actions.”
Jones personal philosophy to captaincy is simple.
“I try to lead by example in all facets. I like to get involved with the ball in hand and try and use my speed and power to carry effectively. I try to inspire with both my actions and words.”
Jones said clarity and confidence combined with an innate trust in one another proved to be a formidable combination.
“I’ve played with most of these boys since Year 7. I think that made a big difference in the tight games. We enjoyed a strong brotherhood and though we weren’t always professional we had a lot of faith in each other.”
The faith of the team was most tested during defeat. Heading into the 1A semi-finals, St Peter’s hadn’t beaten the three sides above them.
“I knew we had the ability to do great things, but we had to get meaner. Our mantra was to attack and defend like wolves and we weren’t doing that,” Jones reflects.
“After we lost to King’s we beat Auckland Grammar which is huge for us. The first time we played St Kent’s I thought we played alright, but a few things went against us. We were the better team against Sacred Heart, but let that one slip.”
After the near stumble against Westlake in the Blues Regional Final, Jones said St Peter’s was at their resolute best against Hamilton Boys’ in the Top Four semi-final.
“The Hamilton game was our best performance of the season. When you look at schoolboy rugby in the last decade Hamilton has been the benchmark, consistently the most successful team. We were really hard-nosed on defence and managed to win the physical battle.”
“The wind was unbelievable. AJ and Sam controlled things really well given the conditions.”
Conditions appeared to be stacked against St Peter’s in the final, but Jones was reassuringly calm at halftime.
“We talked about having fun. It was more serious than that, but we knew if we could get the rub of the green and get on a roll that things could turn and they did which was awesome.”
Jones second half try collecting a lineout fumble at halfway and striding clear provided the Saints with a lead they never lost.
“It happened very quickly. I got the ball from the lineout and instinct took over. I beat a few playing with an instinctive fend. It was only when I was clear I realised I still had a long way to go,” Jones laughed.
Dave Thomas was in awe of what he witnessed.
“I’ve never seen anyone single-handedly dominate a game like Niko did in the Top Four final. There’s always been a lot of pressure on Niko because he’s the son of the great Sir Michael Jones. Last season Niko Jones established himself as Niko Jones. He was always respectful, positive, calm and energetic.”
Typically Jones would expend his energy on a Sunday at church where he is actively involved in his Kelston community parish.
“I try and help out as much as I can. I teach at Sunday school, help set up, help tidy up. I do anything I can to contribute.”
After being crowned national champions church was out on September 9, but some churchly restraint remained. There were no snowy shenanigans on the way home.
“It was one of the quieter rides of the season actually,” Jones confirmed.
“It was surreal in that there was a huge sense of relief the job was done. Sure there was jumping and singing, but I think the guys were just happy in a more reflective way than usual.”
St Peter’s arrived back to Auckland at 2am Monday morning. A few hours later Niko sat a Cambridge exam. He is presently in Tauranga with the New Zealand Sevens program.
St Peter's College will soon head to Japan to represent New Zealand at the Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational tournament. College Sport Media has helped the school produce a book documenting their extraordinary season which can be purchased by following this link. The book features match reports, stats and profiles with the team:
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