With both the Black Ferns and the New Zealand Women’s Sevens teams being selected this year following the Women’s Provincial Cup competition in October, this year’s Women’s Sevens Series is being played on the weekends of 6 to 8 May and 27 to 29 May.
The series includes two teams from the National Women’s Development Programme, and the Samoan and Cook Island National Women’s Sevens teams as they prepare for their final Rio qualifier in June.
The two teams include several recent (2015) school leavers, as well as four current players at secondary school in 2016, such as Porirua College Year 12 student Ayesha Leti’liga who played a full season on the left wing for Wellington in last year’s Women’ NPC.
The players selected are (current school players in bold):
Chelsea Alley (North Harbour)
Lauren Balsillie (Manawatu)
Georgia Daals (Wellington)
Krysten Duffill (Manawatu)
Cassandra Engler (Canterbury)
Florida Fatanitavake (Glenfield College, North Harbour)
Rhiarna Ferris (Manawatu)
Lavinia Gould (Bay of Plenty)
Ayesha Leti’liga (Porirua College, Wellington)
Crystal Mayes (Manawatu)
Rina Paraone (Kaipara College, North Harbour)
Kanyon Paul (Waikato)
Charlotte Scanlan (Auckland)
Rebekah Tufuga (Manawatu)
Monica Tagoa’i (St Mary’s College, Wellington)
Sapphire Tapsell (Bay of Plenty)
Renee Wickcliffe (Counties Manukau)
St. Kentigern College has won the 2016 Presbyterian Schools' Quadrangular tournament with a commanding victory over Scots College. St. Kentigern College: 57 (Tanielu Tele'a 2, Kayleb Milne, Te Ahiwaru Cirkidaveta, Ryan Jones, Keb Melrose-Wahi, Tevita Mafileo, Etonia Waqa, Peni Lasqa tries; Carlos Price 4 con, Rivez Reihana 2 con) Scots College: 3 (Malo Manuao 1 pen).
It's only April but already and predictably St. Kentigern College have announced themselves as serious contenders for the National Top Four finals. They demolished Scots College 57-3 in the decider, the biggest win in the final since St. Kent's beat St. Andrew's 86-3 in 2014. The very first scrum of the match set the tone. St. Kent's pushed Scots off the ball and won a tighthead.
It was 24-3 at halftime and despite rolling subs there was no mercy shown by the Auckland champions on the occasion of Scots centenary. St. Kent's were a combination of brute force and silky subtly as they showed few apparent weakness against a Scots side that wasn't entirely polished, but far from awful. The first of St. Kent's nine tries was an absolute cracker. After a midfield bust, the ball was recycled quickly and winger Tanielu Tele'a danced around burly Scots No.8 Jack Loader and galloped 25-meters to the line.
he clash between Tele'a and Loader was like a ballet dancer avoiding a tractor. St. Kent's pack is big and mobile. Their ability to keep the ball alive after contact was a source of a lot of their breaks and points. Tighthead Tevita Mafileo (Brother of Sione), hooker Sam Toloke and No.8 Te Ahiwaru Crikidaveta are a particular menace. First-Five Rivez Reihana takes the ball to the line with authority and shows sings he can read a game astutely. St. Kent's scored a beautiful try from a scrum, quickly switching the point of attack in midfield to fool the Scots defense.
It should be noted in 2014 Sacred Heart beat Scots 43-0. Scots went onto share the National title and Sacred Heart missed the 1A final. However Scot's don't have the Umaga-Jensen twins and Alex Fidow, player of rare quality. Still Scots will take heart from the form of centre Tai Neli who is quick on his feet and strong. Loader whose work rate never yields, halfback Jack Mexted who defended bravely and made a couple of partial breaks and prop Moala Katoa who produced an honest shift. St. Kent's with their power and pace setting a high benchmark again.
Lindisfarne College: 27 (Robbie Freebain, Tafa Varea, Josh Dearden, Loqorio Waqanidrola tries; Dearden 2 con, 1 pen) St. Andrew's College: 14 (Llew Johnson, Sam Gilbert tries; Gilbert 2 con)
Lindisfarne College finished third after a superior start and withstanding a brave St. Andrew's fight-back midway through the second-half. Lindisfarne scored an early try when second-five Robbie Freebain pushed through some feeble defence to touchdown under the posts. St. Andrew's failed to match Lindisfarne's early intensity. They dropped the ball regularly and were bullied in the scrums. Halfback Josh Dearden kicked a penalty to make it 10-0. On the first occasion St. Andrew's entered the Lindisfarne 22 they scored a try. Swift and skilful offloading by the forwards saw fullback Llew Johnson ferret in.
Tighthead Tafa Varea was a fearsome figure for St. Andrew's. He was a dominant on his side of the scrum and carried strong. He scored a try from a five-meter tap and it was 15-7 to Lindisfarne at the break. Lindisfarne extended their lead early in the second-half when Dearden cruised over following some meek defence. St. Andrew's finally fired up.
They enjoyed a long passage of play inside the Lindisfarne 22 and first-five Sam Gilbert broke the defence to reduce the deficit to eight points. Johnson dropped the ball in the clear after a set-move from a scrum deceived the Lindisfarne defense and wing Jack Symes was called back after sprinting 90-meters from an intercept. These moments were the last of St. Andrew's resistance.
Loqorio Waqanidrola, who impressively switched from the wing into the forwards, scored on fulltime to seal the victory for the 2015 champions.
Previous Quad Winners
1989-1990: St. Andrew's College 1991-1993: St. Kentigern College 1994: Lindisfarne College/St. Andrew's College 1995: St. Kentigern College 1996-1997: Lindisfarne College 1998-2001: St. Kentigern College 2002-2003: St. Andrew's College 2004: St. Kentigern College 2005: St. Andrew's College 2006: St. Kentigern College 2007: St. Andrew's College 2008-2009: St. Kentigern College 2010: St. Andrew's College 2011: Lindisfarne College 2012-2013: Scots College 2014: St. Kentigern College 2015: Lindisfarne College 2016: St. Kentigern College
Rugby World Cup 2011 winning Head Coach Sir Graham Henry was elected Life Member of New Zealand Rugby. Henry, who was knighted in 2012 for his services to the game, became a professional coach in 1996, coaching, Auckland, the Blues, Wales and the British and Irish Lions before steering the All Blacks to their second World Cup triumph.
Graham Henry was also the convenor of selectors and Head Coach of the famous 1984/85 NZ Schools Rugby tour to the Northern Hemisphere ... Read more about this tour HERE
“I feel very privileged to be elected Life Member, it is a very elite club,” said Sir Graham on being elected.
Auckland Champions St. Kentigern College and National runners-up Scots College will contest the 27th annual Presbyterian Schools' Quadrangular final after resounding victories in their round robin matches.
St. Kent's scored 34 unanswered points in the second-half to steamroll St. Andrew's while Scots eventually suppressed a tenacious Lindisfarne. The St. Kent's match started at a breakneck speed with five tries scored in the opening twenty minutes.
Right wing Peni Lasaqa opened their account after finishing a break from fullback Etene Nani. St. Andrew's responded instantly when fullback Matthew Taylor scored after a spillage at the kick-off and multiple phases. St. Kent's scored the next two tries.
Vice Captain Tanielu Tele'a strolled over unopposed after a strong five-meter scrum and first-five Rivez Reihana swatted past two defenders and muscled over. St. Kent's wasn't entirely polished in the first 20-minutes. They threw a series of wayward passes that kept St. Andrew's in the contest. First-Five Sam Gilbert pierced the defence and offloaded skilfully to wing Jack Symes who reduced the deficit to 19-12. St. Kent's enjoyed a considerable size advantage.
They looked most dangerous when their athletic back-row carried forcefully to draw in defenders before firing wide. Flankers Te Ahiwaru Crikidaveta and Kayleb Milne had storming games and lock Joel Vaiangina was full of bustle. When St. Kent's reduced their errors the combined power of their forwards eventually told. St. Andrew's was dispatched into perpetual retreat. Carlos Price scored two tries and can easily switch between halfback and first-half.
Fullback Etene Nani sought frequent action and broke the defence often. He scored three tries and generously handed the ball to Price when over the line. Wing Tanielu Tele'a scored a hat-trick as a Year 10 against Auckland Grammar and is a player to keep an eye on in 2016.
Lindisfarne started with fire against Scots College and a break by sprightly wing Monty Grieg was converted into points when Gianni Caton slotted a penalty. Lindisfarne was successful in committing greater numbers to the breakdown and extracting lot of turnovers in the first-half.
Loose forwards Frank Tupuola and Chris Hicks were tireless on defence. Scots had much superior backs. The midfield combo of Malo Manuao and Tai Neli caused constant concern as did fullback Connor Garden-Bachop when he ventured into the line. Ironically the first try for Scots was scored by prop Moala Katoa, but a 35m breakout try by Neli reinforced the quality of the Scots backs. Lindisfarne had plenty of possession in the second-spell and were held up twice over the goal-line. However when Scots built phases, with quick ball, holes soon appeared in the Lindisfarne defence. Lock Tama Kapene and No.8 Jack Loader were rewarded for their graft with tries and Manuao created a spectacular try for Garden-Bachop when he leapt into the air and deflected a high bounce from a chip kick onto the vice-captain.
St. Kentigern College: 65 (Etene Nani 3, Carlos Price 2, Tanielu Tele'a 2, Peni Lasaqa, Rivez Reihana, Ryan Jones, Sam Toloke tries; Price 3 con, Reihana 2 con) St. Andrew's College: 12 (Matthew Taylor, Jack Symes tries; Sam Gilbert 1 con) Scots College: 31 (Moala Katoa, Tai Neli, Tama Kapene, Jack Loader, Connor Garden-Bachop tries; Malo Manuao 3 con) Lindisfarne College: 3 (Gianni Caton 1 pen)
Peter Umaga-Jensen is one half of the most talked about twins in New Zealand age group rugby. So what's it like not playing with his brother Thomas in 2016?
"It's sad and weird, but I guess it was going to happen eventually," Peter admits.
Both boys were courted by ever major union in the country: Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. Thomas has ventured south to Dunedin and Peter has stayed in Wellington. After only five rounds of Swindale Shield Premier club rugby, Peter has already earned two man of the match awards for his club Wainuiomata.
"I was always going to go to Wainui if I stayed in Wellington. I was born there and it's my home. The season has been going good so far, though we always make slow starts. We were down 22-0 on Saturday and won, but we can't keep doing that," Peter says.
Scots College is about as far from Wainuiomata as it gets. Scots is a prestigious private school in Strathmore with a decile ten rating. Wainuiomata has one high school with a decile three rating. Up until a few years ago Scots only enjoyed a modest rugby reputation, but extensive recruitment, professional standard coaching and a remarkable Wainuiomata connection has seen the school transform into a National powerhouse.
"In 2010 Scots beat Wellington College for the first time 19-17. That was a big deal and there were a couple of Wainui boys who played in that game. It was obvious Scots was on the up. In 2011 Earl Va'a (Wellington Lions Head Coach) became the school’scoach and he had connections to Wainui. Thomas and I were offered scholarships and that's how I ended up at Scots," Peter explains.
Elias Vole (Melbourne Storm), Henry Stowers (Wellington Lions), TJ Va'a (New Zealand under-20) and Jordon Glenn-Bradbrook (Wellington under-19) were other Wainuiomata talents that were lured to Scots.
From the ages of 11 to 15 the twins were league players. Peter was tempted by offers to the Panthers and Warriors NRL franchises.
"I really enjoyed league. I was mainly a centre, but I played every position in the backline. My favourite game was when Wainui High School beat St. Pats Silverstream in the Jonny Lomax Cup final. I got man of the match," Peter enthuses.
Peter wasn't so positive about his debut for the Scots First XV in 2013. "I did nothing and we lost to New Plymouth," he laments. In fact Peter only played five games that season.
In 2014 the twins both played multiple positions and were human wrecking balls as Scots shared the National Top Four title - the best ever result by a Wellington school. However the season wasn't always smooth sailing. Scots lost their first game to Sacred Heart College (0-43) and were tipped over by St. Pats Silverstream (26-28) in the Wellington round-robin. When did things really click for Scots?
"I don't think it was until the Wellington semi-final against St. Pats Town. It was real wet that day, but everything went right and we won 36-12," Peter recalls.
The final against St. Pats Silverstream was the first major decider Scots had contested and understandably they started in an apprehensive fashion. Peter laughs when recalling the dismay of Earl Va'a at halftime.
"He told us that was the worst half of the season. He asked us 'what are we doing,'"
Early in the second-half Scots roared ahead 18-3. Peter scored a try, but Silverstream rallied to leave the scores tied at 18-apeice. On fulltime Scots won a penalty on the Silverstream 22. Peter captures the drama.
"I was on the right side of the field waiting for the ball from the next ruck. I didn't even know how much time was left. TJ (Va'a) was the only player who knew if he missed, Scots lost because Silverstream finished ahead of us in the round-robin."
At the National Top Four, Peter had an imposing assignment marking the eventual NZ Schools captain Rieko Ioane in the semi-final. It was a miss-match. Scots smashed Auckland Grammar School 39-22, but Peter is humble about his contribution.
"I didn't do a lot to be honest. Rieko rocked my head back in an early tackle. I think he is an awesome player."
Scots made an awesome start to the final. They raced ahead 19-0.
"I couldn't believe it, none of us could. It was the last thing we expected to happen," Peter says.
Hamilton charged-back and the game finished 26-all. Peter scored a try and Thomas was named man of the match. Unsurprisingly both boys were selected for the New Zealand Schools.' The team was accidently leaked and publicly announced before the twins had confirmed their availability. Why did they withdraw?
"Making NZ Schools' as a Year 12 wasn't something I thought about. I still had another year to go and I didn't expect to make the team. I got a text saying I was in the team. I was very proud, but I wanted to stay focussed on my studies. I didn't go to Scots just to play rugby. I don't like it when people accuse me of that. I talked to my parents, the headmaster and some close mates and we all agreed that I needed to concrete on my studies," Peter insists.
Thomas won the senior oratory prize with a speech about why he was proud to be from Wainuiomata. Peter talked about the opportunities and privileges that arise from playing sport. Peter passed four subjects in Level 3 NCEA, Drama, Art History, Physical Education and Geography. In between trainings he works as a chef at the Rydges Hotel.
In 2015, Peter would learn a lot about leadership. He was appointed skipper of the Scots First XV.
"I loved it, but it was challenging. I am real quiet and I didn't like telling the players off. I felt sad when I did, but when they did things right it was real cool."
Peter concedes Thomas was the hardest player to manage.
"We would always argue about things, but that is brotherly love. When we were younger our backyard games would always end up in fights and Thomas would win," Peter says.
"One day I was riding my bike and Thomas pushed me off. The handle bars smashed into my leg and I had a massive bruise for weeks. I cried and Thomas picked me up and we walked home together."
Scots returned to the National Top Four final in 2015. They won 20 out of 24 games and scored 155 tries in another stellar season. Though they fell short of beating Rotorua in the decider Peter joined TJ Faiane (St. Kentigern College 2012-13) as the only player to score a try in consecutive finals.
Peter was annoyed about the negative publicity Rotorua's win attracted following a player eligibility crisis.
"They were a good side who deserved to beat us. I actually messaged some of their players saying I support them. We did well in the game, it was a good game and it was fair."
Fittingly the twins ended their time at Scots by playing 48 games each and scoring 32 tries. Both toured Australia with the New Zealand Schools', but Peter's tour wasn't very enjoyable.
"I was warming up for the Aussie test and I felt a pain in my back. It was a hematoma and I couldn't play. I was gutted."
In May Peter will return to Australia with the New Zealand Under-20's for two warm up tests ahead of the IRB World Championships in June. Peter is still unsure what his best position is.
"I am still trying to figure that out. I like centre and fullback, but wings pretty much do the same thing as a fullback now."
It should be noted the twins father Tony played everywhere from lock to wing for Wainuiomata. Former All Black Captain and uncle Tana Umaga was also pretty versatile.
"Tana is an inspiration. Away from rugby he is a real proud family man who doesn't talk a lot about rugby. He has always told us to be who we want to be," Peter concludes.
Under 20 Rugby World Cup is a great stepping stone for College players into the professional game. Tomorrow (2am NZ Time) Samoa will take on Zimbabwe in the build up to this great event and it seems only fitting that we showcase the Samoan starting line up, given the number of players that have been through the NZ college environment.
All the best to the boys in their journey to the U20 RWC.
Samoa U20’s v Zimbabwe U20’s
Caleb Clarke is the son of former All Black and Auckland mainstay Eroni Clarke. Like his father, Caleb is a gentle, pious and affable personality with an abundance of talent and a fierce desire to succeed. Being the son of a top class player does have some pitfalls though.
"When I was in Year 9 and 10 a lot of people used to come up to me and say 'we expect big things from you.' That used to scare me, but now I have more confidence in my own game," Clarke explains.
Caleb plays on the wing and was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools last year. He admits he was surprised to be chosen.
"At the start of the year I thought it would be nice to make the New Zealand Schools,' but it didn't feel like an attainable goal because not many Year 12's are selected. When I made the camp, I thought I could actually do this.”
Clarke missed the New Zealand Barbarians fixture with a stress fracture in his hand, but recovered in time to make the tour of Australia. He started in the resounding 62-3 victory against Samoa and appeared in the 32-8 win over Australia.
"It was great to get one over our Trans-Tasman rivals. Although I was surprised by how big the final score was I thought we really deserved to win because we all put in so much hard work," Clark reflects.
Mount Albert Grammar School have started 2016 in an encouraging fashion. A fortnight ago they successfully defended their Blues Ten's title. Last year MAGS faded after a strong start to finish fifth in 1A. What did Clarke learn about this setback?
"I think we need to have the desire to be the best we can be the whole season. When we played King's we really wanted to beat them and the feeling before that game was real focussed and we played well. Before other games that intent was missing," Clarke admits.
This Saturday MAGS feature in the opening Land Rover First XV match against Northland's Kaitaia College. Despite a vastly superior pedigree in rugby Clarke is not taking anything for granted.
"We expect a good game. We actually went up there a couple of weeks ago and played them. They definitely tested us and gave us things to work on like the speed of our ruck defence."
Breaching defences is something MAGS could be very adept at this season. They have genuine speed merchants in their backline. Fullback/wing Niven Longopoa is the North Island under-18 hurdles champion, first-five/second-five Paul Roache is a top-ten ranked sprinter in Auckland and Clarke has an extensive background in athletics.
"My dad got me into athletics. He wanted to teach me how to run properly and it's been really good for my rugby. My proudest achievements in athletics are winning the Auckland 200m title this year and winning the 100 and 200m in the Auckland versus New South Wales meet in Sydney when I was 11."
Number 11 was the iconic jersey number of the world's most famous rugby winger, the late Jonah Lomu. Eroni Clarke and Lomu were close friends and Clarke helped to organise a special Polynesian memorial service for the fallen champion. Being the son of a famous rugby player has obvious advantages.
"I would love to have spent more time with Jonah. He was a great player and man. I have met Israel Folau. He is a friend of a pastor my dad knows. He is a real humble guy who shared so many of his life experiences with me."
Mount Albert Grammar School vs. Kaitaia College is a curtain raiser to the Blues vs. Sharks Super rugby match at Eden Park. Land Rover First XV rugby in 2016 kicks off at 5pm.
Former Rotorua Boys High School First XV captain Isaac Te Aute will make his debut having joined the All Blacks Sevens squad late last year after finishing school.
Bay of Plenty team mate centre Teddy Stanaway will earn his second caps having last been called into the side that played in Cape Town in December. Te Aute joined the team as one of three injury replacements following the Hong Kong Sevens.
Liam Messam will captain the All Blacks Sevens in this weekend’s Singapore Sevens. Messam takes over the leadership following injury to Tim Mikkelson in Hong Kong and the decision to rest long serving former captain DJ Forbes.
The team is:
Kurt Baker (Taranaki)
Dylan Collier (Waikato)
Gillies Kaka (Hawke’s Bay)
Antonio Kiri Kiri (Manawatu)
Josh Van Lieshout (Counties Manukau)
Liam Messam (captain) (Waikato)
Sione Molia (Counties Manukau)
Teddy Stanaway (Bay of Plenty)
Isaac Te Aute* (Bay of Plenty)
Isaac Te Tamaki (Waikato)
Regan Ware (Waikato)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau)
New Zealand Under 20 squad named for Oceania tournament
The New Zealand Under 20 squad to travel to the Gold Coast, Australia this month for the Oceania Under 20 tournament, has been named.
The squad is:
Ayden Johnstone - Waikato
Mason Kean - Hawke’s Bay
Shaun Stodart - Otago
Sean Paranihi - Canterbury
Alex Fidow - Wellington
Pouri Rakete-Stones - Hawkes Bay
Leni Apisai, captain - Wellington/Hurricanes
Asafo Aumua - Wellington
Hamish Dalzell - Canterbury
Quinten Strange - Tasman
Sam Caird - Waikato
Isaia Walker-Leawere - Wellington
Fin Hoeata - Taranaki
Mitchell Jacobson - Waikato
Luke Jacobson - Waikato
Dalton Papali’i - Auckland
Hapakuki Moala- Liava'a - North Harbour
Marino Mikaele Tu'u - Hawke’s Bay
Jonathan Taumateine - Counties-Manukau
Sam Nock - Northland/Blues
TJ Va’a - Wellington/Hurricanes
Stephen Perofeta - Taranaki
Jordie Barrett - Canterbury
Patelesio Tomkinson - Otago/Highlanders
Orbyn Leger - Counties Manukau
Jonah Lowe - Hawke’s Bay
Malo Tuitama - Wellington
Peter Umaga Jensen - Wellington
Mason Emerson - Hawke’s Bay
Jordan Trainor - Waikato/Blues
Caleb Makene - Canterbury
Note: one player to be added prior to assembly in Auckland
Not considered due to Super Rugby Commitments:
Shaun Stevenson Waikato
Players not considered due to injury:
Matthew Lansdown - Waikato
Jahrome Brown - Waikato
Hugh Renton - Hawke’s Bay
Ere Enari - Canterbury
Harrison Levien - Waikato
Lisati Milo-Harris - Auckland
New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Scott Robertson said that he was pleased with the talent available for the tournament which will see them play two Test matches against Australia early next month.
“The trial matches that we held last month were incredibly valuable for us as selectors and we got to see the players in that intense game environment, and we got to see how they responded to the pressure of playing and competing for places.
“While there are only the two countries, we have two tough test matches against a strong Australian team in this Oceania tournament. These will also provide us with a valuable sense of how they cope with playing intense matches in a compact window,” he said.
Hurricanes hooker Leni Apisai has been named captain of the side.
“Leni is just an impressive young man who leads a pack well on the field. He has already shown a maturity beyond his years, in the way he has stepped up to starting for the Hurricanes when veteran hookers Dane Coles and Motu Matu’u were ruled out injured at the start of the season.”
The New Zealand Under 20 squad to compete in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship will be named in May after the Oceania squad returns to New Zealand.
The squad assembles in Auckland on 24 April and will play a match against the Blues Development XV on 28 April, before travelling to the Gold coast for matches against Australia on 3 and 7 May.
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