Elite schools are looking to poach some of the south's brightest rugby talent, and Southland principals say the practice is taking its toll on small communities.
Christ's College executive principal Garth Wynne was travelling through Southland, Otago and the Southern Lakes last week, meeting with students who might be keen to attend the elite Christchurch school, which boasts alumni including ex-All Black Robbie Deans and former Black Caps captain John Wright.
"We've had a long engagement with this part of New Zealand," Wynne said.
Wynne said about 20 of the roughly 160 boarders at the decile 10 school were from Southland.
A year's tuition at the elite school costs $22,000 for New Zealand students and $32,350 for international students.
"Boys' schools aren't the boys' schools of the 1960s," Wynne said.
Read more at Stuff.co.nz
New Zealand Under 20 hopefuls in trial camp
Forty nine players have assembled for a trial camp in Palmerston North as selectors narrow their search for the next New Zealand Under 20 squad to defend their World Championship title.
New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Scott Robertson said players have arrived in camp fit and excited at the prospect of trialling in two games tomorrow.
“We’ve already been able to watch a lot of these guys playing for their development teams and that’s been really helpful. This trial camp is a good opportunity for us to see the players in this competitive environment and it gives us a good chance to see what they can do in 80 minutes,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of young players, some straight out of school, who could qualify to play next year as well, so that’s exciting. Our focus will be to select a squad to play in the Oceania Under 20 tournament in May, before we select our squad for the World Championship.”
The World Rugby Under 20 Championship will this year be held in Manchester, England from 7-25 June. The Oceania Under 20 tournament will be played in Australia from 29 April -8 May.
The players selected for the trial camp are:
Jonah Aoina - Otago
Ayden Johnstone - Waikato
Mason Kean - Hawkes Bay
Shaun Stoddart - Otago
Sean Paranihi - Canterbury
Joe Apikotoa - Wellington
Alex Fidow - Wellington
Sosefo Kautai - Waikato
Sekope Lopeti - Waikato
Asafo Aumua - Wellingotn
Max Fryatt - Hawkes Bay
Romero Tagi - Auckland
Hamish Dalzell - Canterbury
Quinten Strange - Tasman
Manaaki Selby-Rickit - Manawatu
Sam Caird - Waikato
Isaia Walker-Leawere - Wellington
Paripari Parkinson - Tasman
Lui Luamanu - Wellington
Finn Hoeata - Taranaki
Charlie Gamble - Canterbury
Mitchell Jacobson - Waikato
Luke Jacobson - Waikato
Dalton Papali’i - Auckland
Nathan Tweedy - Manawatu
Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a - North Harbour
Marino Mikaele Tu'u - Hawkes Bay
Martin Brink - North Harbour
Liam Howley - Southland
Logan Crowley - Canterbury
Jonathan Taumateine - Counties Manakau
Brett Cameron - Canterbury
Matthew Lansdown - Waikato
TJ Va’a - Wellington
Stephen Perofeta - Taranaki
Orbyn Leger - Counties Manakau
Alex Nankivell - Tasman
Jordie Barrett - Canterbury
Lester Maulolo - Wellington
Amanaki Savieti - Waikato
Pepe Patafilo - Wellington
Gene Te Amo - Counties Manakau
Jonah Lowe - Hawkes Bay
Shelford Murray - Waikato
Mason Emerson - Hawkes Bay
Jordan Trainor - Waikato
Caleb Makene - Canterbury
Peter Umaga-Jensen - Wellington
Josh McKay - Canterbury
Not considered due to Super Rugby Commitments:
Leni Apisai, Wellington
Sio Tomkinson, Otago
Shaun Stevenson, Waikato
Sam Nock, Northland
Players not considered due to injury:
Hayden Spencer, Waikato
Hugh Renton, Hawke’s Bay
Ere Enari, Canterbury
Sam Ulufonua, Auckland
Harrison Levien, Waikato
Lisati Milo-Harris, Auckland
Malo Tuitama, Wellington
Jahrome Brown, Waikato
There has been a big drive in the UK for school rugby to ban all forms of tackling and for the game to be reduced to touch rugby for players under the age of 18.
Over 70 health experts, doctors and academics are behind the campaign to ban tackling in school rugby in order to protect young players from concussion.
This stance would almost ruin the game as we know it, as kids will develop an affinity and love of other sports during this time. Very few would then progress to a full contact version if there was no exposure to the realities of the game when younger.
But even from a followers perspective, if you don't grow up with the game, you are unlikely to become a supporter and a fan later in life. A ban over time, if not instantly, would kill the sport in the UK.
Is concussion a serious problem? If it is, could the game be in serious risk? Heath and safety is a significant issue in New Zealand, both from a recreational and business perspective. The number 8 wire, or "give it a go" attitude is trying to be replaced by prudent, considered actions that address risk and ensures people are accountable. But with accountability, comes increased costs. Or if costs are prohibitive, those risky activities are simply banned.
Is rugby a risky activity? What further steps will be put in place to ensure a safe (or a managed risk) environment for kids. What does this look like? Doctors on the sideline, no tackling ... what are the costs? Who pays? Will Colleges need to fund ambulances at every level of the game?
Or is this a case of the political far left taking the fun out of everything ... there are risks, sure, but they are known.... lets move on and have some fun. As the saying goes, "playing with sticks is fun, until someone loses an eye ... then it is fun playing pirates!"
Christchurch has been the site of seismic change recently and those realities are not only confined to the physical landscape of the city. The coaching, playing and structural foundations of the UC Championship have been shaken considerably.
The top five teams from 2015 all feature new coaches, but some things never change and that is there is an abundance of exciting talent coming through. Here are some names to look out for during the course of the season which kicks off in May.
Zach McKay – The St. Bede’s fullback was the leading try scorer for the 2015 winners scoring 18 times. McKay has searing pace, good anticipation and is sound defensively. He was a Crusaders under-18 rep who has the ability to cover wing. He will be hoping to replicate his cousin Josh McKay’s feat in earning selection for the New Zealand Schools.
McKay says his biggest focus in 2016 is “providing leadership” for a young team and getting “the small things right.” McKay is a gifted attacking player, but wants to improve his kicking game.
Leicester Faingaanuku – The son of Malakai Faingaanuku who represented Tonga at the 1999 World Cup seemed bound for league. He was named MVP of the South Island National Secondary Schools’ Tournament in 2014 and was headed to Christchurch to pursue the sport.
He decided to stay with Union and that was a smart decision. The winger who will most likely play fullback or midfield in 2016 scored eight tries in the UC Championship in 2015 and excelled when given space. He scored a spectacular 80-metre try against Marlborough Boys’ College on Land Rover First XV rugby.
Cam Russell - Burnside High School have improved drastically in the last two years, threatening the semi-finals and knocking over St. Bede’s in 2014.
Russell has been an instrumental in Burnside’s upwards ascent. The openside flanker plays with a maturity beyond his years. A respected captain he represented the Crusaders Knights under-18′s in 2015.
He is adept at winning a turnover and his pace, instincts and support play saw him score nine tries.
Joseph Taipari – Christchurch Boys’ High School have impressed with their free-wheeling style of play in the last two years. They have scored 207 UC Championship tries and Taipari is an exciting attacking threat that could cause opponents consternation.
The New Zealand age-group touch rep has been snapped up by the NRL, but will play rugby in 2016. Swift footwork, quick anticipation and sometimes brazen audacity are the hallmarks of his play. Taipari will play in the backs, most likely at first-five or fullback.
Cruz Topai-Aveia – Shirley Boys’ High School made the final for the first time since 2003 last season. They achieved the rare feat of beating, Christchurch BHS, St. Bede’s and St. Andrew’s in the same season. A big and mobile forward pack who could monster opponents and get a roll on was an instrumental part of their strategy.
No.8 Topai-Aveai will hope to repeat his 2015 form. He scored two blockbuster tries in the 21-20 win over St. Bede’s. A member of the Aranui Eagles league team he has represented Samoa at age group level in league meaning he brings a rounded skill-set to his position in Union.
Ngane Punivai – Christ’s College had a disastrous 2015 and have wiped the slate clean among the coaching staff.
Stephen Dods has been appointed rugby director. Dods spent 15 years at Christchurch Boys’ and witnessed the school win three National championships. Former All Black captain Reuben Thorne, who owns a cafe across the road from the school, will join Canterbury first-five Cameron MacIntyre as First XV coach.
Christ’s likely captain is last year’s leader Ngane Punivai. He was one of the few positives to emerge from the rubble. The powerfully built second-five plays with shrewdness and composure and should push the rep system. His combination with head prefect and first-five Angus Gray will be crucial.
Punivai is a part-time goal kicker. He scored 51 points in the UC Championship in 2015.
Sam Gilbert – St. Andrew’s College won 16 out of 18 games in 2015. They won the National co-education title for a second time and through a curious twist of fate hold the Moascar Cup. One of the biggest reason for their success was their ace goal-kicking.
Fullback Sam Gilbert converted 86% of all his attempts. He scored 138 points alone in the UC Championship (7 tries, 35 conversions, 11 penalties).
Gilbert is not huge in stature, but aside from his kicking prowess he is an elusive runner and smart tactical player.
Tournament Teams for 2016
Tyrese Ratahi - Manukura
Brooklyn Herewini - Manukura
Taratu Mankelow - Tauranga Boys’ College
Tom Finlay - PNBHS
William Treder - PNBHS
Josh Maoate - PNBHS
Carson Hepi - PNBHS
Damien Henare - Hato Paora
Jack Robertson - Westlake Boys High School
Dylan Chesney - Westlake Boys High School
Ilisoni Vonomatairatu - Tu Toa Tai Wananga
William Mitford - Tu Toa Tai Wananga
MVP - Ilisoni Vonomatairatu Tu Toa Tai Wananga
Bree Meyer - Tauranga Girls’ College
Hope Garner - Tauranga Girls’ College
Piatarihingamare Devon - Tauranga Girls’ College
Georgia Ponsonby - Feilding High School
Lauren Balsillie - Feilding High School
Sarah Talumepa - Feilding High School
Lyric Faleafaga - St Mary’s College
Puleiata Ainsleyana - St Mary’s College
Monica Tagoai - St Mary’s College
Jazmin Holtham - Hamilton Girls’ High School
Kanyon Paul - Hamilton Girls’ High School
Calista Wihone - Hamilton Girls’ High School
MVP - Lauren Balsillie - Feilding High School
Toka Rei Apou - Manukura
Taine Craig-Ranga - Tauranga Boys’ College
Flynn Kelly - Tauranga Boys’ College
Masese Dawai - Feilding High School
John Lomu - Feilding High School
Vilimoni Koroi - Feilding High School
Brayden Iose - PNBHS
Al Momoisea - Napier Boys’ High School
Della Neli - St Paul’s Collegiate
Jacob Katipa - Westlake Boys’ High School
Ariki Hood Kaitapu - Westlake Boys’ High School
Reuben Cotter - St Bede’s College
MVP - Vilimoni Koroi Feilding High School
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand