"The culture of the team is really strong. I think it's a lot better than what it was at the same time last year," warns Jack Casey-Pickering captain of the Mount Albert Grammar School First XV.
The National Top Four champions start their season on Saturday with a hit-out against 1A runners up Sacred Heart College. A replay of the Auckland final so early in the season is a serious start.
"It's not a fully serious game, it's three-30 minute periods serving as Sacred Heart's First XV trial and a chance for us to try new combinations. That's not to say we won't be taking it seriously." Casey-Pickering explains.
MAGS have been in serious mode since January 20 when their squad assembled for pre-season training. Next week they play Westlake Boys' High School in a similar arrangement before tackling Hastings Boys' High School on April 15. This match is a replay of the National Top Four final, a curtain raiser to the Blues v Hurricanes Super Rugby clash at Eden Park and MAGS’ last outing before they jet to Japan for the Sanix World Youth Invitational Championships.
"Everyone is looking forward to Japan. We’re taking 30 players and have worked hard to raise money for the airfares, the rest of the expenses are covered. We had a fundraising night at the Ponsonby Rugby Club and auctioned off some items. Ironically the biggest seller was a signed Lionel Messi shirt which was pretty cool,” Casey-Pickering says.
MAGS have 18 returning players from their 30-man squad last year. No.8 John Latu who started every game last year is expected to be a key figure, but what about the rest of the squad?
"We've lost a lot of size in the forwards, but our backs are just as good if not better than last year." Casey-Pickering responds.
Casey-Pickering is a lock. He started most games in 2016, but suffered a cruel injury in the 1A semi-final tearing a quad muscle which left him on the sidelines for three weeks. He missed the Auckland decider, but returned for the National Top Four climax.
"The Auckland final was torture. It was really tight and they put us in a box at Eden Park instead of letting us on the sideline. The Top Four final was won by our defense, but Hastings were really physical. I wasn't match fit, but I battled through." Casey-Pickering recalls.
Casey-Pickering did better than battle. He was selected for the Auckland Under-18's. His skill and maturity has seen him elevated to skipper. How will Casey-Pickering handle the leadership duties?
"Even though I wasn't a senior player last year I tried to add my voice when I could. I think the key to being a good captain is balance. You have to build a good relationship with your players, but also lead by example with your game."
Casey-Pickering captained the MAGS Under-15's when they won the Auckland title and were runners up at the Nationals to Hamilton Boys' High School.
Mount Albert Grammar School won the Blues 10s Tournament for the third year in a row at the QBE Stadium in Albany on Saturday, 25 March.
MAGS defeated De La Salle College 13-5 in the final, which was played as a curtain-raiser to the Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Bulls. Albertian and Blues member Sonny-Bill Williams congratulated the team after their win.
MAGS was Captained by Jack Casey-Pickering, and Noah Foster was named Player of the Tournament.
Results: v Kelston Boys High School: won by default; v Whangarei Boys High School: won 54-0; v Rangitoto College: won 70-0; semi-final v Westlake Boys High School: won 15-7; final v De La Salle College: won 13-5
The MAGS team has three more pre-season games before they head to Japan to represent New Zealand at the Sanix world secondary schools rugby championship.
Saturday, 1 April, 10.30am: v Sacred Heart College at Sacred Heart
Saturday, 8 April, 12pm: v Westlake Boys High School at Westlake
Saturday, 15 April, 5pm: v Hastings Boys High School at Eden Park, curtain-raiser to the Blues v Hurricanes
It’s a long season ahead, but the Kaipara College’s girls’ rugby side has already bagged one title win for 2017, winning the annual secondary school Blues 10s Invitational Tournament in the weekend.
Last year’s National Championship Top Four XVs rugby girls semi-finalists, Kaipara College won the one-day tournament on North Harbour’s QBE Stadium.
There were seven girls teams at the tournament, representing North Harbour, Auckland and Counties-Manukau, divided in to two pools of three and four each. Games were 10 minutes each way. Kaipara played two Pool A games against the other North Harbour team, Long Bay College, and against Auckland’s Otahuhu College.
On the other side of the draw, Aorere College topped Pool B, which also included Southern Cross Campus, Green Bay College and Tuakau College.
“We beat Otahuhu 20-0 in our first game and Long Bay College 41-7 and then we beat Aorere College 31-7 in the final, so it was a good day for us,” said Kaipara College coach Callum Finlay.
Malia Hemehema scored a hat-trick in the final against Aorere, while her sister Jazelle Hemehema and Anna Steele scored tries in the five tries to one win.
Last year Kaipara College beat Hamilton Girls’ College 10-7 to finish third at the XVs Top Four finals in Palmerston North, while their 7s team won the Bowl final at last year’s Condor 7s finals in Auckland.
Coach Finlay said that Kaipara had three new players making their debuts for the team on Saturday, off-setting the loss of five players from last year’s team.
Leading player Rina Paraone is one of last year’s Year 13s who has left school. “Rina is now down at Waikato University, but her younger sister Merania was playing and was very good around the field, setting up two of the tries in the final. Maddy Wells, who plays lock/flanker in XVs, has returned as captain.
“We have a leadership group of four of the senior players, but there’s a good atmosphere in our squad where they all look out for each other and give each other advice. Everyone does their job and it seems to work for us.”
Finlay said it’s the start of a busy season. “We have got the North Island Secondary Schools Sevens in Rotorua coming up this weekend, we are going to have a crack at that and see how we go. Then it will be the 10s season in North Harbour as normal and we will look to use that as a platform to challenge for the Blues region title and go to the Top Four finals again.”
Like most other girls rugby teams, members of the team are also involved in other sports. “Jamie Allen is a Waka Ama paddler so she is at their nationals this week and will then come and join us in Rotorua, while we have a number of Premier 1 netball players. Some have chosen just to do rugby this year after the success of last year.”
Meanwhile, the 12-team boys Blues 10 tournament on Saturday was won by National XVs champions Mount Albert Grammar School for the third year in a row. MAGS beat De La Salle College 13-5 in their final. Noah Foster was named Player of the Tournament.
The New Zealand Under 20 squad to travel to the Gold Coast, Australia next month for the Oceania Under 20 tournament, has been named.
New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Craig Philpott said that he was pleased with the talent available for the tournament which will see them play Test matches against Australia, Fiji and Samoa in an expanded Oceania Tournament starting on April 28.
“This is a very experienced squad we are taking to the Oceania under 20s. 13 players have been in the Under 20 environment before and nine played in last year’s World Championship in Manchester. That previous experience of an international competition will come in valuable on the Gold Coast.
“Up to this point we have had 50 odd players at our previous training camps and we had to make some tough calls to whittle the squad down to 30. The camps highlighted we have good depth in most positions, and selections were particularly competitive in the loose forwards and outside backs, where a number of players will feel rightfully disappointed that they didn’t make the squad.
“Oceania provides us a great opportunity to prepare for the Under 20 World Championship in Georgia in June, especially because both tournaments follow the same format. We will play three test matches in the space of 12 days, which is something many of the players won’t be used to. It is also an opportunity to get together as a team and get to know each other better, play and train together in a tournament environment and develop our team culture.
“We have selected Luke Jacobson as Captain and Jordie Barrett as Vice-Captain. Luke is a leader who leads by his deeds. He is a very good player who will be on the field for most of the Tests and can play at either number eights or number six. He also brings experience from last year’s World Championship campaign and has featured in the in Chiefs’ programme this year including the Brisbane 10s where he had an excellent tournament.”
The New Zealand Under 20 squad to compete in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Georgia in June will be named in May after the Oceania squad returns to New Zealand.
The squad will travel to the Gold Coast for matches against Fij on 28 April, Samoa on 2 May and Australia on 6 May. All matches will be played at Bond University, Gold Coast Rugby Fields.
The squad is:
Harrison Allan (Canterbury)
Asafo Aumua (Wellington)
Sam Caird (Waikato)
Adrian Choat (Auckland)
Tom Christie (Canterbury)
Ryan Coxon (Waikato)
Tim Farrell (Hawke's Bay)
Alex Fidow (Wellington)
Luke Jacobson (C) (Waikato)
Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Auckland)
Marino Mikaele -Tuu (Hawke's Bay)
Dalton Papalii (Auckland)
Jacob Pierce (Auckland)
John (JP) Sauni (Auckland)
Samuel Slade (Auckland)
Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hawke's Bay)
Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington)
Jordie Barrett (VC) (Taranaki)
Caleb Clarke (Auckland)
Ereatara Enari (Canterbury)
Braydon Ennor (Canterbury)
Tima Faingaanuku (Tasman)
Tiaan Falcon (Hawke's Bay)
Will Jordan (Canterbury)
Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Wellington)
Orbyn Leger (Counties-Manukau)
Josh McKay (Canterbury)
Jona Nareki (Otago)
Carlos Price (Wellington)
Tamati Tua (Northland)
Note: Two further players will be named prior to the tournament.
Not considered due to injury:
Stephen Perofeta (Auckland)
History will be made this Saturday when the Chiefs U20s team plays their first ever International fixture against the Argentina U20s team at Massey Park in Papakura. It is the third and final match of the 2017 Chiefs U20s programme, offering players an important opportunity to impress New Zealand U20s selectors ahead of the Under 20 World Championship in Georgia from 25 May – 18 June 2017.
The Chiefs U20s programme sits within the University of Waikato Chiefs Development programme, which identifies promising Chiefs region rugby players and develops them for future opportunities in professional rugby, together with their Provincial Unions.
The Chiefs U20s vs. Argentina U20s match kicks off at 4.30pm this Saturday 25 March.
Entry is free into Massey Park, Papakura to watch this historic match.
The Chiefs U20s team to play Argentina U20s is:
1. Alex Mitchell (Taranaki)
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)
3. Tevita Mafileo (Bay of Plenty)
4. Lachlan McWhannell (Waikato)
5. Sam Caird (Waikato
6. Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
7. Du Plessis Kirifi (Waikato)
8. Ajay Mua (Bay of Plenty)
9. Caleb Korteweg (Waikato)
10. Ciarahn Matoe (Taranaki)
11. Sali Tukania (Counties Manukau)
12. Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau)
13. Sevu Reece (Waikato)
14. Tyler Campbell (Waikato)
15. Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty)
16. Damon Abraham (Counties Manukau)
17. Bradley Slater (Taranaki)
18. Jesse Williams (Bay of Plenty)
19. Sione Tuipulotu (Counties Manukau)
20. Tom Florence (Taranaki)
21. Joe Johnson (Bay of Plenty)
22. Te Ra Whata (Bay of Plenty)
23. Matt McKenzie (Taranaki)
24. Walter Fifita (Counties Manukau)
Chiefs U20s Management Team:
Coach: Tai Lavea
Coach: Tasesa Lavea
Coach: Paul Tito
Trainer: George Wardell
Video Analyst: Mark Ray
Physio: Kyle Turvey
Manager: Paul Galletta
Programme Manager: Kent Currie
Forty-eight players have been selected to attend the second New Zealand Under 20 development camp in Palmerston North from 9-13 March, in the build up to the World Rugby Under 20 Championship to be held in Georgia in May and June this year.
The full camp is preceded by specialist coaching clinic for the tight-five on 7-8 March. The tight-five clinic is being led by All Blacks scrum coach Mike Cron, New Zealand Under 20 and Hawkes Bay Head Coach Craig Philpott, New Zealand Under 20 scrum coach and former All Blacks and Crusaders prop Dave Hewett, and Crusaders hooker, Kings coach and New Zealand Rugby Talent Identification Manager Matt Sexton.
“Playing for New Zealand Under 20 can be the launch pad to a professional rugby career, and this development camp is an integral component of the player development system in this country," said New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Craig Philpott.
“This programme is a great breeding ground for new talent to put their hand up for higher honours. 10 players from last year’s Under 20 team have been selected for Investec Super Rugby squads this year and 23 of the players on last years All Blacks end of year tour have previously been part of the Under 20 programme."
Players selected to attend the development camp are:
Dylan Lam - North Harbour
John (JP) Sauni - Auckland
Ezekiel Lindenmuth - Auckland
Jerry Samania - Auckland
Jacob Pierce - Auckland
Cameron Suafoa - Auckland
Samuel Slade - Auckland
Dalton Papalii - Auckland
Adrian Choat - Auckland
Sione Tuipulotu - Counties
Sam Caird - Waikato
Shneil Singh - Waikato
Laghlan McWhannell - Waikato
Luke Jacobson - Waikato
Ryan Coxan - Waikato
Du'Plessis Kirifi - Waikato
Pouri Rakete-Stones - Hawkes Bay
Marino Mikaele -Tuu - Hawkes Bay
Brayden Iose - Manawatu
Chris Cairns - Manawatu
Asafo Aumua - Wellington
Ben Power - Wellington
Isaia Walker-Leawere - Wellington
Josh Brown - Wellington
Harrison Allan - Canterbury
Tom Christie - Canterbury
Slade McDowall - Otago
Tamati Tua - Northland
Lewis Gjaltema - North Harbour
James Little - North Harbour
Otumaka Mausia - Auckland
Tanielu Tele’a - Auckland
Nikolai Foliaki - Auckland
Caleb Clarke - Auckland
To'o Vaega - Auckland
Orbyn Leger - Counties
Tyler Campbell - Waikato
Matt Lansdown - Waikato
Tiaan Falcon - Hawkes Bay
Kemara Hauiti-Parapara - Wellington
Carlos Price - Wellington
Billy Proctor - Wellington
Tima Faingaanuku - Tasman
Ereatara Enari - Canterbury
Braydon Ennor - Canterbury
Josh McKay - Canterbury
Will Jordan - Canterbury
Jonah Nareki - Otago
Note: further front row players will be selected following the tight-five clinic.
Not attending due to injury or Super Rugby commitments:
Sheldon Tovio - Waikato
Jordie Barrett - Taranaki
Stephen Perofeta - Taranaki
Alex Fidow - Wellington
Thomas Umaga Jensen - Wellington
Peter Umaga Jensen - Wellington
Lester Maulolo - Wellington
New Zealand Under 20 will hold a further camp in April, before taking part in the Oceania Tournament on the Gold Coast in April and May. A squad of 28 will be selected to go to the Under 20 World Championship in Georgia from 25 May – 18 June 2017.
The fourth annual Sir Gordon Tietjens sevens tournament was staged at the New Zealand Rugby Institute in Palmerston North this weekend. The event featured the anointing of a new boys champion, St. Paul's Collegiate and more success for Condor Sevens winners St. Mary's College, while home town school Palmerston North Boys’ High School annexed the U15 section.
St. Paul's Collegiate Wins For the First Time
In a replay of the 2016 final, St. Paul's Collegiate reversed their defeat to Tauranga Boys' College, prevailing 24-14. Tauranga started briskly when Connor McLeod scored the first try after a stylish reverse pass from head prefect Flynn Kelly.
A telling difference between the two sides was St. Paul's ability to win kick-off possession. Starved of the ball, Tauranga fell behind 19-7 when tries were scored by Liam Allen, Fergus Burke and Jock Yarndley.
Despite losing a player to the sin bin Tauranga rallied and a try to Taylor Kite reduced the deficit to 19-14.
Valynce TeWhare was one of the standouts all weekend for St. Paul's. The tall and powerful presence had the final say when he charged 40-metres for the winning try after collecting a deflected pass.
Earlier Tauranga enjoyed a resounding win against Palmerston North BHS in the semi-finals. Kelly scored three tries and Leroy Carter impressed with his creativity.
Palmerston North had made the semis at the expense of Scots College. In a sometime spiteful quarter final Captain Sam Stewart scored two twice for Palmerston North while Jaylen Tuapola scored a try with the last play for Scots, but the conversion from in front missed.
St. Paul's had no such dramas in a close 19-12 semi-final win over Condor runners-up Feilding High School. St. Paul's led for the entire match and a 65-metre runaway try by Luke Donaldson was a highlight.
St Mary’s win competitive Girls tournament
St. Mary's College successfully defended their title overcoming a determined Motueka High School 28-12 in the final. Risaleaana Pouri-Lane opened the scoring for Motueka from a penalty tap, but St. Mary's abrasive defence soon caused repeat Motueka spillages. Two tries from past halfway by Ainsleyana Puleiata put St. Mary's in command.
Ivana Samani scored the last two tries for St. Mary's after Sydnee Wilkins had threatened to spark a Motueka comeback with a solo effort of her own.
St. Mary's was otherwise untroubled in reaching the final. Motueka stunned Hamilton GHS in the other the semi-final. Motueka scored two quick tries and hung on grimly to their advantage. Pouri-Lane, Wilkins and Lyric Siaki were among the players who shined and crossed the chalk for Motueka.
Montessa Tairakena was outstanding for Hamilton GHS scoring a try after she bagged two in the quarter finals. Captain and Condors MVP Jazmin Hotham was shutdown effectively in the semi-finals, but still enjoyed a productive day scoring four tries in the quarter final.
Palmerston North BHS won for the title for the third time in four years edging Feilding High School 19-15 in an explosive decider. Feilding Captain Terrance Graham caught Palmerston North napping early when he scored a try from a quick tap.
Palmerston North soon gained the ascendency when Kalis Mason and Lafo Takiari-Ah Ching scored successive tries to make it 14-7.
Zane Brooks scampered away from a tighthead to close the gap to four, but a length of the field try to Tavita Henare-Schuster extended Palmerston North's lead to 19-10.
Feilding refused to surrender and when Graham completed his double the score was 19-15.
Reif Dawson had the chance to settle the contest for Palmerston North when he dribbled a loose ball all the way to the goal line, but fumbled without a defender in site.
Feilding threatened a breakout, but a thumping tackle forced a Feilding mistake.
Full tournament Results: CLICK HERE
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