Three school teams win All Blacks coaching clinic in "One More Team" promotion
Three college rugby teams will be the envy of their classmates after winning a coaching clinic with a group of All Blacks as part of a New Zealand Rugby promotion aimed at rewarding those schools and clubs who have helped grow our national game - and an All Black was on hand to deliver the good news today.
As part of a player recruitment drive, all schools and clubs who were successful in recruiting an extra team for the season were able to enter the "One More Team" promotion and win the chance to be coached by a group of All Blacks, with dozens of entries received.
Hurricanes and All Blacks outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder was on hand today to Skype call the winning teams from Wellington's St Mary's College, who entered a girls' team in the Wellington First XV competition; Taieri College in Mosgiel, who this year added an Under 15 team alongside their four other school teams; and Auckland's Tamaki College, who added an Under 14 team.
Click here to watch Nehe make surprise Skype calls to the winners
Brent Anderson, New Zealand Rugby's General Manager - Community & Provincial Rugby, said: "It's fantastic that we have been able to reward those organisations who are contributing to the growth of rugby in New Zealand with a special visit from the All Blacks. Growing player numbers is a key strategic focus for New Zealand Rugby and it's neat that these schools were able to recruit one more team. I'm sure they will learn a lot from the All Blacks."
The All Blacks squad for the Steinlager Series Tests against Wales will be named on Sunday. The coaching sessions with the All Blacks players will take place on Monday 6 June (Tamaki College), Friday 17 June (St Mary's College) and Monday 20 June (Taieri College). Two more All Blacks coaching clinics will take place in Christchurch and Hamilton during the Investec Rugby Championship, with the winners announced closer to the time.
Jason Mee, Raymond Taufa, Gabriel Pulu, Pat Syme, Dominic Mario, Otumaka Mausia, Loketi Manu
Sione Pua, Rueben Filemoni, Fisilau Katoa
Afi Ielemia, Tyler McCarthy, Jacob Pierce, Jacob Hawke, Ollie Polson, Laga’ali Schuster, Nikolai Foliaki, Joshua Gagamoe, Campbell Busby
Otto Faiva, Leauma Tuuga, Bryan Mulitalo, Fa’alelelei Ioane
Jerry Samania, Justin Horsfield, George Tuigamala, William Mottershead, John Akau’ola-Laula, Julius Togafau, Brandon Boyle, Toma Tia, Wiseguy Faiane, Niu Osika, Paula Maama, Wesley Tamiefuna
Kastello Nansen, Dominic Maupese, Fatai Finau, Sean-Ben Kiria, Fuaiva Takitaki, Xavier Nu’u, Ivan Baker, Siope Ngata, Aisea Fainga’anuku, Jakob Iakopo, Oliveti Kata, Tevita Polaapu, D’Angelo Leuila
Michael Teo’o, Brook Wilson, Samuel Slade, Taina Fox-Matamua, Paitusi Eti, Jake Cameron, Mark Tapueluelu, Roman Blackman, Robin Faumuina, Frank Tuiloma, Armani Ngaro, Freedom Vaha’akolo, Darren Kellett, Noa Mataia
Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Charles Na’apa, Zac King, Matthew Sowter, TJ Vaega
Iose Brown, Awanui Morris, Jack Marks, Nicholas Laufoli, Maxwell Peto, Gus Stone, Isitolo Maka, Henry Saker, Matt Olo-Whaanga, Lino Leiataua, Fita Faka’soi, Shaun Oliver
Malua Leauanae, Tim Young, Toa Ahio, Adrian Choat, Poni Fata Nu’u, Mosese Sokiveta, Moape Qiolevu
Unavailable due to Injury:
Ben Sau’u (Papatoetoe), Ian Vermeulen (Pakuranga), Chris Lu’au (Suburbs).
Currently with NZ Under 20:
Dalton Papali’I (Pakuranga).
College Sport Media tells the story of successful young people. Behind individual team and individual sporting success are the coaches, parents and support staff – and the officials - the referees and umpires that help make a well-run game possible.
As the winter sports season gets underway in earnest, College Sport Media went to New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to ask about the health of the game from the standpoint of the referees. How are referee numbers shaping up? Pretty good actually, says NZR Community Rugby Manager Brent Anderson, who shone a positive insight on referees numbers, as well as some other issues that we put to him. Our questions and his answers below:
College Sport Media (CSM): NZR already has initiatives such as You Make the Call, that give students the chance to gain credits for refereeing, referee recruitment incentivised in School Rugby Administrator agreements, and school coaches encouraged to do associate referee courses. Despite these positive steps we still see a decline in numbers refereeing. Is there anything else being done to address referee shortages Nationwide?
Brent Anderson (BA): Our national numbers remain relatively consistent from year to year. Although there was a small decline of 1.2% in 2015 this change is consistent with similar fluctuations up and down over recent years. Trends in the provinces are similar with minor fluctuations up and down.
This year we have invested in a comprehensive social media recruitment campaign to encourage men and women who love rugby to take up refereeing. Some Provincial Unions (PUs) also undertake their own recruitment campaigns. At a national level we also put our resources into providing comprehensive development programmes for both referees and coaches so that they have the skills they need to be involved, and stay involved, in the game.
CSM: Is a shortage of referees impacting player retention or preventing young players staying in the game and continuing to play rugby later into their secondary schooling and beyond into club rugby?
BA: Our focus is always player enjoyment. If players enjoy their rugby experience they will continue to play. Good referees and coaches play a major role in that. That’s why we put a lot of our resources into producing good referees and coaches.
CSM: Most regions have a separate body that runs referees. Does this body limit NZR's ability to implement meaningful change quickly?
BA: No, not at all. NZR has agreements with all of our PUs to run education programmes for referees. That means any changes or updates that need to be made are easily implemented and relayed to all referees.
CSM: Other school sports all pay their referees - why has rugby not gone down the same track, especially as schools seem happy to pay to ensure kids play?
BA: One of the core values of community rugby is we are an amateur game and we cherish that value. We provide our referees (through the PUs) with kit and the resources they will need as well as extensive training and education free of charge. A significant number of Provincial Unions reimburse their referees for their expenses at the end of the season.
CSM: Is the issue of referee abuse, mainly by players, but also by supporters, any more or less of a problem than its always been, and does this or the perception of it hinder referee recruitment?
BA: Any incident of referee abuse is a concern for us. Respect is another of community rugby’s values and that means respect for the other team, teammates and the referee. We have seen a slight decrease in the number of reported incidents of referee abuse which is a positive sign.
Our APPLAUD programme is used by clubs and PUs all over New Zealand and every year the uptake of it grows. Our research shows that the main reasons referees stop refereeing are work, family and other hobby related.
CSM: The female game is growing, are there comparable female referees taking up the whistle to match growth in player numbers?
The numbers of female rugby players continue to grow and we need to have the number of referees and coaches to support the numbers – be they male or female. More women are showing an interest in refereeing and we are developing pathways for them to become referees and develop their skills further.
Through a curious twist of fate St. Andrew's College Second XV beat the Scots College equivalent last year and claimed the Moascar Cup,
Sensibly the trophy was passed onto the First XV who successfully defended it while winning the National co-education Top Four tournament in Rotorua. Sam Gilbert insists the First XV had to "earn the right to touch it."
"When the Second XV was in a position to challenge for the Moascar Cup we did some research to understand the history and rules of the trophy. We learned it was a huge privilege to hold it so when we went to the Top Four we were determined to earn it ourselves," Gilbert says.
St. Andrew's beat Feilding High School 27-18 and Cambridge High School 30-13 to keep it for the summer. This year St. Andrew's have repelled the challenge of Rangiora High School 43-13. This Saturday on Land Rover First XV rugby St. Andrew's host Marlborough Boys' College in what is expected to be a tough defence.
"We have huge respect for Marlborough Boys.' We expect them to have a big forward pack who will look to take us on up front. They also have some threats out wide as they showed when they beat Christchurch Boys' High," Gilbert says.
St. Andrew's have won their first four matches in the UC Championship this year. In pre-season their form was somewhat sluggish, losing both matches at the Presbyterian Quadrangular tournament against St. Kentigern College and Lindisfarne College.
"We have come a long way since quad. We have 14 or 15 new players in the team this year so to face St. Kent's, one of the best teams in the country, in our first real hit out was a tough start. We were pleased with our first twenty minutes. We held them to 19-12 and played some good footy, but I guess errors and nerves really cost us," Gilbert concedes.
In 2015 St. Andrew's won 16 out of 18 matches and reached the semi-finals of the UC Championship for the first time in several seasons, beating traditional rivals Christchurch BHS, St. Bede's College and Christ's College. Controlling nerves was a big part of the teams' success.
"We had a group of senior players like Harrison Allen (NZ Schools) who really stepped up and took a lot of responsibility on and off the field. We won a lot of close games because of that strong leadership group," Gilbert explains.
In 2016 St. Andrew's have a senior leadership group of six players each of whom take responsibility for a particular aspect of the game with the captain having the final say. First-five Gilbert is in charge of attack and goal-kicking. Last season Gilbert played fullback. Which is his preferred position?
"Definitely first-five. I have played first-five for most of my life. The only reason I played fullback last season was because we had a really good first-five and I wanted to get into the team. I like being closer to the attacking line and trying to control the game," he says.
Gilbert scored 144 points last season and has kicked around 80% for the last two years. He kicked a memorable 40m penalty on Land Rover First XV rugby to help St. Andrew's beat Christchurch BHS 25-24.
"I remember being angry with myself for missing a similar kick two minutes earlier. We won another penalty and the captain asked me if I wanted to have a crack. I made some adjustments and kicked the goal. It was pretty noisy when it went over," Gilbert recalls.
Gilbert has made some noise in the summer as a cricketer. He is the captain of the St. Andrew's First XI and has been in the team since Year 10. A batsman who bowls off spin, Gilbert's best innings is 103 for the Canterbury Under-17's and his best bowling performance is 5-8.
He says the highlight of his long tenure in the team was beating Christchurch BHS in last season's one day final. Christchurch had won three National Championships.
When the cricket season resumes St. Andrew's, St. Bede's, Christ's and Christchurch BHS will play for a place at Nationals.
"We have a young team, but it's been a pretty good season. Some of the senior guys will have to step up if we are to advance to Nationals," Gilbert concludes.
First XV competitions around the country are all either underway or about to kick-off.
Taking a look at four of them – Auckland’s 1A, North Island’s Super 8, Wellington’s WelTec Premiership and the Crusaders’ UC Championship – who do you think the winners will be?
In Auckland MAGS, Auckland Grammar School and Sacred Heart College are all unbeaten after three completed rounds and in the UC Championship its Christ’s College that leads after five matches played. Wellington starts next Saturday and the Super 8 the following fortnight.
Vote on one or more or all of our polls below:
Flanker Cam Russell made his debut for the Burnside High School First XV in Year 10 and was thrust on to the wing against St. Bede's College, then the toughest team to topple in the UC Championship.
"That was pretty daunting, but I really enjoyed it," Russell recalls.
Later that season Burnside conceded a century against Christchurch Boys' High School confirming that Burnside rugby was a mess.
"That season was pretty tough. It was embarrassing to be in a team that lost by 100 points. On the sideline that day was Mark Robertson and Kevin Harding. They are old boys of the college and agreed that this couldn't carry on. They decided to coach the team and completely changed the way we approached things," Russell says.
The following season Burnside lost in the last minute to Christchurch BHS.
"We were guttered to lose that game, but at the same time it showed how far we had come. It was a real vindication of the work we put in," Russell explains.
This Saturday Russell celebrates his 50th match for the First XV when they tackle Rangiora High School in the UC Championship.
"I have to prepare for this game like it's any other, but it's pretty special to reach 50 games. I have been playing for a pretty long time," Russell says.
Russell is in his second season as captain. He scored nine tries in 2015 as Burnside achieved a top six finish for a second consecutive season. Russell was good enough to earn selection for the Crusaders Knights U18 camp.
"It was great to go to the Crusaders camp and test myself against the best in the region. A few years ago I was playing in weight restricted reps and was encouraged to go up a class in weight even though I was a lighter fellow. Playing against heaver guys really challenged me and I think it helped build confidence and resilience in my game," Russell says.
Russell identifies two exceptional games from his time in the First XV.
"In 2014 we won the Crusaders co-ed final against St. Andrew's College. That was a phenomenal game at STAC. There were a few thousand spectators who turned up and it was really close. We were down with a few minutes to go when one of our international players did a cross-kick. I thought, 'what the hell are you doing'? We need to keep hold of the ball. Suddenly our blindside flanker caught the ball and scored a try and we won."
"We also beat St. Bede's on their home field. Jack Lindsay had a phenomenal game that day scoring three tires. We came back in that one to," Russell recalls.
In this season’s topsy turvy UC Championship Burnside have won two out of four matches. They were whitewashed by Christchurch Boys' High School, soundly beaten by Christ's College, struggled past Lincoln High School and required a last-minute try to foil St. Thomas of Canterbury College. Is Burnside's good run about to come to an end?
"It's true we haven't had a great start, but I really think that things are starting to click. We have a better understanding of who our top combinations are and we played some pretty good rugby at times last weekend. Christ's surprised us to be honest. They are a really good side who played such smart rugby. They were fit and strong kicked accurately. We couldn't get any go forward that day because we were stuck in our half for the whole game," Russell says.
From Francis Douglas Memorial College to the Black Jersey ... Jordie has developed into a fine player.
Less than two weeks till the U20 Rugby Championship kicks off. Time to revisit the highlights of the 2015 England v NZ Final.
"We didn't execute anything in the second-half. We couldn't catch and pass. We couldn't get out of our 22. It was some of the worst rugby we have played this year," George Witana complains when reflecting on the performance of the Sacred Heart College 1st XV on Saturday.
How the hell did they manage to topple defending champions St. Kentigern College then?
Mighty St. Kent's who have only lost four 1A games since 2011 and who had beaten Sacred Heart eight times in a row.
"Pure guts and a bit of luck. We really dug deep in the second-half. Our defence was outstanding and the senior players really stood up," Witana acclaims.
Sacred Heart played with the wind in the first-half and built a handy lead at the interval. Dynamic loose forward Hoskins Sotutu, the son of former Fijian international Waisake Sotutu, scored a try and halfback Ben Engels (4 penalties, 1 conversion) punished St. Kent's ill-discipline with some accurate goal-kicking. Sacred Heart played for territory and backed the muscle of their defence.
"Jack McHugh our openside was outstanding. He’s a really good player who will definitely push for higher honours this year. He works really hard and won a lot of turnovers," Witana says.
Witana is a first-five and has played representatively for Auckland at U14 and U16 level. His tactical kicking forced St. Kent's into retreat as Sacred Heart's confidence soared.
"There is a lot of belief in this team. I think the senior players have learned a lot from the disappointments of last year and to get the St. Kent's monkey off our backs is huge. We celebrated like we had won the championship, but were determined to make sure this is not a one-off."
The final score was 19-16 to Sacred Heart who it should be noted have been in the 1A semi-finals four times in the past five seasons.
In 2011 Sacred Heart topped the round-robin, held the Moascar Cup and won 19 out of 21 games before succumbing to eventual National Champions Kelston BHS in the semi-finals.
The following year Sacred Heart won 11 out of 15 games and St. Kentigern, the eventual National Champions, beat them 22-21 in the semi-final.
In 2014 Sacred Heart boasted Daniel Tupou, beat eventual National Champions Scots College 43-0 and won 16 out of 20 games, but again St. Kentigern denied them in the semi-finals as they did last year, a season which yielded 13 wins in 17 games.
In 2016 Sacred Heart have additionally beaten St. Paul's Collegiate, Otago BHS (a top four side in 2015) and accounted for Dilworth College in the first round of 1A. It's an impressive start, but is Sacred Heart peaking too early again?
"I hope not. We are working harder and smarter than before and setting higher expectations. We are learning all the time and not getting too far ahead of ourselves," Witana insists.
Witana is the embodiment of high standards. The head prefect has achieved excellence in NCEA Levels 1 and 2, is a prominent member of the Kapa Haka group and was premier waterpolo captain.
Waterpolo is Witana's other sporting passion. He has represented Auckland and New Zealand at age group level. He says waterpolo and rugby really complement each other.
"Water polo is great for anaerobic fitness and it’s really physical. It keeps you in the good shape for rugby."
Sacred Heart's water polo has been in great shape recently. They have been Auckland premier champions for six consecutive years, North Island champions five times in the last six seasons and in 2013 and 2014 they added National honours to that legacy as well. In 2014 Sacred Heart was unbeaten and outscored their opponents 352 goals to 84!
"Water polo is an interesting sport in that it's really close. This year we won theAuckland title, Auckland Grammar won North Island's and Rangitoto won Nationals. Anyone can beat anyone on the day. We were disappointed not to win Nationals, but we had a good season and Rangitoto deserved it," Witana reflects.
St. Kentigern College were runners up at Nationals. The rivalry between the two schools is just as intense as it is in rugby.
"I think the competitiveness of the water polo is great and not dissimilar to rugby. Our home games are played at the school pool and they pack out. Because it's indoors it's really loud so you can hardly hear each other speak," Witana enthuses.
Sacred Heart feature on Land Rover 1stXV Rugby on May 28 against Kelston BHS.
NZ U20 WORLD CUP TEAM ANNOUNCED
The New Zealand Under 20 squad is:
Ayden Johnstone Waikato
Shaun Stodart Otago
Sean Paranihi Canterbury
Alex Fidow Wellington
Sosefo Kautai Waikato
Leni Apisai, captain Wellington/Hurricanes
Asafo Aumua Wellington
Quinten Strange Tasman
Hamish Dalzell Canterbury
Lock /Loose Forward
Isaia Walker-Leawere Wellington
Fin Hoeata Taranaki
Mitchell Jacobson Waikato
Luke Jacobson Waikato
Dalton Papali’i Auckland
Marino Mikaele Tu'u Hawke’s Bay
Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a North Harbour
Jonathan Taumateine Counties Manukau
Sam Nock Northland/Blues
Stephen Perofeta Taranaki
TJ Va’a Wellington/Hurricanes
Orbyn Leger Counties Manukau
Jordie Barrett Canterbury
Patelesio Tomkinson Otago/Highlanders
Jonah Lowe Hawke’s Bay
Malo Tuitama Wellington
Caleb Makene Canterbury
Shaun Stevenson Waikato/Chiefs
Jordan Trainor Waikato/Blues
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand