The place to be this weekend is Auckland’s Sacred Heart College, where many of the college games hot steppers, speedsters, and big hitters will congregate for this year’s Condor Sevens tournament.
The move to Sacred Heart from its previous venue at Kelston Boys’ High School has come in part due to another expansion in the size of the tournament. Eight more boys sides have been added along with four more in the girls, taking the two fields to 32 and 20 teams respectively, so four fields will be in use. That has allowed for both the addition of spots to some of the bigger provinces, while also ‘breaking-up’ several regional qualifiers and giving some of the Heartland unions a direct entry into the event; but disappointingly some have chosen not to take up the invitation.
When adding the 28 boys (including one from the Cook Islands) and 16 girls teams that will contest the one-day Under 15 events on Friday, that’s 96 teams and over 1000 players who will take the field over the three days.
The boys field is headed up by two schools that qualified for the national XV’s Top Four. Hastings Boys’ High School may have dipped out then to Mount Albert Grammar School, but have perhaps been the form team of the year and will be targeting this weekend to get the championship they will feel they deserve, while third-placed Hamilton Boys High will be looking to retain this title after being a class above in winning it last year. However they only managed to finish third in the Waikato qualifiers, and owe their place at the nationals to the expanded field.
The two sides that fought out the national Co-ed XV’s final, Feilding High and Aorere College, will also be counted as real contenders. The former are no strangers to this event, while the latter were the impressive and perhaps surprise winners of the Auckland qualifier.
One talking point going into the event is the seeding method adopted by the tournament organisers, which seems to have been based on where a particular school finished last year, or where the school from their region (if not the same) did. That has led to a seemingly bizarre scenario where small Nelson school Garin College are seeded ninth while Otago Boys’ High School are listed last; albeit Otago haven’t made the long trek north in the past couple of years.
Another is the tournament format; with the 24-team field of previous years teams that finished second in their three-team pool had an opportunity to still make the Cup field when matched up against a pool winner in the round of 16 at the end of the first day. With the expansion to 32 only the pool winners will progress through, so a loss in pool play could very well be fatal to a side’s hopes of glory.
Aside from those above, other teams that bring a reputation to the tournament include Rotorua Boys’ High School and Wellington’s St Patrick’s duo Town and Silverstream while you can’t count out the hosts Sacred Heart. The South Island trio of Christchurch, Otago, and Timaru Boys will seek to become only the second school (after Aranui High) to take the title south over Cook Strait.
The notable absentee is national 15’s champions MAGS, who despite qualifying have chosen to not to compete, citing the absence of a couple of leading players and tiredness among the squad after a long season.
All four schools that played at the Top Four have also qualified here. Southland Girls’ High School will be aiming to add this title to their 15’s triumph and like their Boys counterparts Hamilton Girls’ High School will be aiming to retain the title they won in impressive fashion. Kaipara College will certainly see themselves as title challengers but all three will have to be wary of Wellington’s St Mary’s who not only won their own qualifier in a canter, but backed up to win their provincial Women’s title as well.
Other sides that will be keen to show that they have solid credentials include Auckland winners Howick College, perennial contenders Feilding High School, tournament regulars Southern Cross Campus , New Plymouth Girls’ High School and Christchurch Girls’ High School. On an individual level, several schools will also include players who have or soon will feature in their full provincial sides over the summer series.
Tournament organisers have opted to place the 20 teams into five pools of four, meaning that the three best second-placed teams after pool play will progress along with the pool winners through to the quarter-finals and the knockout phase of the competition.
The U15 tournament has also expanded greatly this year, up from 16 boys teams to 28 boys and 16 girls teams. The U15 tournament will run all day Friday and competition is expected to be just as hot as in the senior ranks. The defending champions are New Plymouth Boys’ High School (boys) and Howick College (girls).
Seven to Watch
Billy Proctor (St. Pats Town) - The New Zealand Secondary Schools' midfielder has performed strongly in lead-up tournaments. In the Hurricanes tournament in Palmerston North he scored two tries in the final and was selected for the tournament team. In the Wellington 7s, won by Town, he was perhaps the player of the tourney with his ability to create space for others and score tries with his sometimes searing pace. Billy is the younger brother of NZ Maori rep Matt Proctor.
Kini Naholo (Hastings BHS) - The younger brother of All Black Waisake Naholo, Kini also plays on the wing and has made a big impression in sevens. He scored three tries in the Hurricanes Sevens final which was won 33-22 by Hastings over St. Pats Town. Naholo is used on the flanks by Hastings where his strength and speeds seem him often evade the defence.
Kaleb Trask (Rotorua BHS) - The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union Sports Person of the year will be vital in Rotorua's attempt to reclaim the title they won so impressively in 2014. Trask, a NZ Barbarians selection, is quick on his feet, reads a game intelligently and is an accurate drop kicker. Trask will be the central play maker in a strong looking Rotorua team.
Cheyne Copeland (St Mary’s College) - Look out for the girl with the number nine on her back in the ‘all black’ team, Wellington’s St Mary’s College. Diminutive danger woman Cheyne Copeland has pace, a quick step and a terrific kicking game in general play. The St Mary’s fifteens rugby first five-eighths kick and chasing is a real threat to opposition teams and with less traffic to navigate often reaps rewards in sevens too. Look out for Cheyne to work well with the likes of captain Monica Tagoai, the Faleafaga sisters, Dhys and Lyric, and the team’s two NZ netballers Ana Puleiata and Renee Savai'inaea.
Alena Saili (Southland GHS) - Alena Saili was this year’s Southland Secondary School’s Sportswoman of the Year and for good reason too. The Southland Steamroller knows her way to the try line. With speed, light footwork and a team-first attitude, Southland’s captain and number 13 Alena could spell bad luck for other teams at this year’s Condors. The NZ Touch representative will also have her sister Sipa Saili on her shoulder, as well as several other teammates that won this year’s National XVs girls title.
Iva Livani (Howick College) - Howick College won the U15 girls tourney last year and their seniors are the present open Auckland champions, with only a single Year 13 in the roster. Year 11 student Iva Livani is particularly promising. She won the U15 player of the Tournament last year and is noted for her speed and astute and accurate passing game. Livani is a multi-talented athlete who also play rep netball and touch and is a member of the Howick College senior volleyball team.
Rameka Poihipi (Hamilton BHS) - Hamilton are the defending champions and have won three times under the guidance of Nigel Hotham. Last year Hamilton prevailed despite Rameka Poihipi exiting the tournament early with a serious injury. He was carried on to the field by his teammates for the trophy presentation. Poihipi has been in top form in 2016. He was selected for the New Zealand Barbarians and his creativity, leadership and swift footwork will be key in Hamilton's push for another title.
Pool A – Hamilton Boys (Wkt), St Pauls Collegiate (Wkt), Western Heights (BoP), Otago Boys (Ota)
Pool B – Hastings Boys (HB), Tauranga BC (BoP), Palmerston North Boys (Man), Rangitoto College (NH)
Pool C – Rotorua Boys (BoP), St Pats Silverstream (Wlg), Westlake Boys (NH), De la Salle College (Akl)
Pool D – Feilding High (Man), Mt Roskill Grammar (Akl), St Peters, Gore (Sth), Otahuhu College (Akl)
Pool E – Christchurch Boys (Can), St Pats Town (Wlg), Thames High (TV), St Pauls, Auckland (Akl)
Pool F – Timaru Boys (SC), Kerikeri High (Nth), Wesley College (C-M), Liston College (Akl)
Pool G – Aorere College (Akl), New Plymouth Boys (Tar), Kelston Boys (Akl), Manurewa College (C-M)
Pool H – Sacred Heart (Akl), Garin College (Tas), St John’s College (Wkt), Francis Douglas MC (Tar)
Pool G – Hamilton Girls (Wkt), Southern Cross (Akl), Cambridge High (Wkt), Wanganui High (Wgi)
Pool I – Southland Girls (Sth), Kaipara College (NH), New Plymouth Girls (Tar), Gisborne Girls (PB)
Pool R – Tauranga GC (BoP), St Mary’s (Wlg), St Hilda’s (Ota), Mt Roskill Grammar (Akl)
Pool L – Feilding High (Man), Howick College (Akl), Rangitoto College (NH), Wesley College (C-M)
Pool S – Christchurch Girls (Can), Motueka High (Tas), Bay of Islands College (Nth), Mt Albert Grammar (Akl)
Pool play starts at 9.30am on Saturday with the last games at 4.05pm. The Girls Cup final is at 4.20pm on Sunday, with the Boys Cup final following.
Forty-nine players have been selected to attend the New Zealand U20 development camp, in preparation for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Georgia next year. Ten of these players were involved in last year’s campaign.
Players selected to attend the development camp in Palmerston North from 1-7 December 2016 are:Forwards
Asafo Aumua (Wellington)
Ben Power (Wellington)
John (JP) Sauni (Auckland)
Chris Cairns (Manawatu)
Pouri Rakete -Stones (Hawke’s Bay)
Alex Fidow (Wellington)
Jerry Samania (Auckland)
Ben Aumua Peseta (Wellington)
Sitiveni Paongo (Wellington)
Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Auckland)
Harrison Allan (Canterbury)
Afioga Ielemia (Auckland)
Sam Caird (Waikato)
Jacob Pierce (Auckland)
Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington)
Shineil Singh (Waikato)
Will Tucker (Canterbury)
Samuel Slade (Auckland)
Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
Sione Tuipulotu (Counties Manukau)
Tom Christie (Canterbury)
Slade McDowall (Otago)
Adrian Choat (Auckland)
Du'Plessis Kirifi (Waikato)
Brayden Iose (Manawatu)
Josh Brown (Wellington)
Dylan Lam (North Harbour)
Marino Mikaele-Tuu (Hawke’s Bay)
Isaiah Miller Tasman)
Caleb Korteweg (Waikato)
Lewis Gjaltema (North Harbour)
Kemara Hauiti –Parapara (Wellington)
Carlos Price (Wellington)
Tiaan Falcon (Hawke’s Bay)
Matt Lansdown (Waikato)
Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau)
Matt McKenzie (Taranaki)
Braydon Ennor (Canterbury)
Tamati Tua (Northland)
Lester Maulolo (Wellington)
Nikolai Foliaki (Auckland)
Tima Faingaanuku (Tasman
Josh McKay (Canterbury)
Caleb Clarke (Auckland)
To'o Vaega (Auckland)
Sheldon Tovio (Waikato)
Tyler Campbell (Waikato)
Josh Buchan (Otago)
Will Jordan (Canterbury)
Not considered due to Super Rugby Commitments were:
Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes)
Peter Umaga Jensen (Hurricanes)
Stephen Perofeta (Blues)
Eri Enari (Crusaders)
Players not considered due to injury were:
Thomas Umaga Jensen (Otago)
James Little (North Harbour)
Otumaka Mausia (Auckland)
Dalton Papalii (Auckland)
Ryan Coxan (Waikato)
Hawkes Bay Magpies and previous New Zealand U20 Assistant Coach, Craig Philpott, steps up to replace Scott Robertson as the Head Coach.
Philpott will have two Assistant Coaches with him for the 2017 campaign. Taranaki’s Willie Rickards has been re-appointed along with new Assistant Coach Cory Brown, Head Coach of the Otago NPC team.
New Zealand U20 will hold further camps in March and April next year, 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.
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Following the 2016 Hurricanes Under 16 Tournament, a group of 56 players have been selected to attend the annual Hurricanes Under 17 Development Camp to be held at the Hurricanes Training Base on 11 December.
The one day Camp provides an insight to the world of professional rugby, with sessions focused on nutrition, mental skills and physical training.
New Zealand Rugbys Convenor of Selectors, Darren Larsen, sees the Camp as an excellent opportunity for aspiring players to learn what it takes to embark on a potential career as a professional player.
With professional rugby now a career choice for players once they leave school, its important that players and their parents develop a good understanding of whats involved in becoming a professional sports person.
Hurricanes High Performance Manager, Chris Stirling, believes that the Hurricanes franchise is well positioned to providing a series of stepping stones to professional rugby, for players with potential.
Some players from this group may be invited to join our Apprentice Scheme, which is a unique programme for school-age players to gain exposure to the Hurricanes working environment, in the 2017 season.
The Under 17 Camp forms part of the comprehensive programme for teenage rugby administered by the Hurricanes Youth Rugby Council on behalf of the regions 8 Provincial Unions. Council Chairman, Gordon Noble-Campbell said.
The Hurricanes Region is a strong contributor to the strength of New Zealand Rugby at all levels, both through our Provincial Union Teams and our Super Rugby affiliation with the Hurricanes. This Camp is an important part of growing that link to create future success.
The players selected for the Development Camp, are as follows.
East Coast RFU
Chase Sheridan, Wheturangi Grant-Karaka, Carlos Paenga, Antonio Leawere.
Hawkes Bay RFU
Liam Udy Johns, Nathan Giles, Damarus Hokianga, Patrick Teddy, Raniera Peterson, Sam Henderson, Tyrone Thompson, Josh Gimblett.
Horowhenua Kapiti RFU
Vaughn McCardle, Tama Cook, Reece Wyatt.
James Stratton, Stewart Cruden, Tyler Laubscher, James Bolton, Josiah Mareku, Drew Wild, James Woodmass, Rawiri Chambers.
Poverty Bay RFU
Tyrin Wyllie, Sione Ki-Nuia, Tee Paenga, Moses Christie, Billy Priestly.
Wairarapa Bush RFU
Sam Smith, Jack Eschenbach, Harry Mckay, Cooper Jamieson, Isaac Bracewell.
Ben Kelt, Paiki Ponga, Hayden O'Leary.
Moala Katoa, Luke Mannix, Ropati So'oalo, Stanley Paese, Taine Plumtree, Iona Apineru, Keelan Whitman, Josh Mallon , Harrison Boyle, Albert Polu, Malo Manuao, Jaylen Tuapola, Caleb Cavubati, Ish Perkins, Riley Forbes, Josh Southall, Shaquille Fiso, Kienan De Le Rambelje, Devon OliverBell, Ben Cusin.
Girls rugby continues to increase in popularity. Here are five secondary school players from the five Super Rugby Franchises - who have caught College Sport Media's attention this year
Alena Saili (Southland Girls’ High School) - Southland Girls’ High School won the National Top 4 rugby title for the first time this year, beating first time finalists St Mary’s College Wellington 46-29 in the decider. Centre Alena Saili scored a first half hat-trick in the final and she would have scored a fourth try if not unselfishly popping a pass under the bar to captain Kendall Buckingham. Alena has consistently been one of Southland’s leading players for the past two seasons, in both fifteens and sevens, along with her sister and halfback Sipa Saili. Alena also played goal defence for Southland GHS at the NZSS Netball Championships in October and is also a current New Zealand age-grade Touch representative and recently won the Southland Secondary School Female Sportsperson of the Year award.
Ayesha Leti-L'iga (Porirua College) - Ayesha Leti-L'iga has a huge future in the game. Still only Year 12 at Porirua College, she played her second successive season on the wing for the Wellington Pride in the Women’s NPC competition this year. Nicknamed ‘Baby’, her strength, pace and composure under pressure belied her age. She scored six tries in six NPC games, including a hat-trick against Bay of Plenty. She missed Wellington’s semi-final against eventual winners Counties-Manukau as she was away on a school trip. At the start of the year she won a runners-up medal for Wellington at the National Sevens and she also played on the wing and fullback for her club side Oriental-Rongotai.
Jazmin Hotham (Hamilton Girls’ High School) - It was a re-building season this year for 2014 and 2015 NZSS champions Hamilton Girls’ High School, but they still put themselves in a great position to defend their title, eventually losing narrowly to both St Mary’s College and Kaipara College in the finals in Palmerston North. In qualifying for the Top 4, fleet-footed and pacey centre Jazmin Hotham ran in five tries in the Waikato final against Te Awamutu and then featured strongly in the Chiefs final against Tauranga GC. Jazmin is also a talented sevens player. Not just a promising rugby player, Jazmin has showcased her skills on the athletics track as a sprinter, on the football pitch and on the touch field as a member of last year’s NZSS Girls Touch team.
Kaylee Tavendale (Rangiora High School) - Lock or No. 8 Kaylee Tavendale spent her second season in the Canterbury’s Women’s NPC squad in 2016, making six starts in the locking position and coming off the bench once more. Since making her captaincy debut for Rangiora High School aged 15, Kaylee has moved on to playing senior rugby for the Christchurch club women’s team. Now finishing her final year of school, she has a big future in the women’s rugby game.
Rina Paraone (Kaipara College) - Rina Paraone was the captain and centre of the Kaipara College team that reached the Top 4 for the first time this year, narrowly losing to eventual champions Southland GHS and holding on to beat defending champions Hamilton GHS 10-7 in the playoff for third. Rina has all the attributes of a player who will go far in the women’s game, particularly strong and swift on her feet and organised in defence, and she was her team’s obvious leader. She played five games on the left wing for the North Harbour Hibiscus in this year’s Women’s NPC, scoring three tries. In October she was named the Most Promising Player of the Year award at the North Harbour rugby awards. Rina will be playing in the Condor Sevens for a third time next month.
Unbelievable talent has graced 1st XV teams in 2016, but the top 5 are something special. If NZ had a NBA style, college rugby draft ... who would be your 1st pick?
Brayden Iose (Palmerston North BHS) - Iose scored three tries in an early season fixture against Scots College capturing the attention of former All Black Captain Andy Leslie who warned "this boy is good, very good." Leslie's instincts proved correct. Iose was the captain of the Hurricanes U18's who thrashed the Crusaders 64-20 in the Term Two holidays. Iose's dynamic play and mature leadership eventually earned him the role of New Zealand Secondary Schools Captain. New Zealand was unbeaten for a third straight year accounting for Fiji (45-19) and Australia (32-22).
Ngani Punivai (Christ's College) - Christ's College was one of the most improved teams in New Zealand in 2016. For the first time in 13 years they captured the annual quadrangular title piping Wellington champions, Wellington College 24-19 in a thrilling final. For the first time since 2010, Christ's made the semi-finals of the UC Championship finishing the round robin at the top of the table. Punivai's leadership and versatility in the backline was a massive part of the team's success. Punivai scored 95 points in the UC Championship and earned selection for the New Zealand Schools. From fullback he scored four tries in two games in National colours.
Sione Havili (Auckland GS) - Havili has been a member of the Auckland GS First XV for three years where he plays loose forward and was captain of the side in 2016. He has started in 40 competition games and was selected for the Auckland and Blues U18 Representative teams. Further distinction was achieved when he was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Team and was the recipient of the Bronze Boot Award, given to the best performing player in the Australia Test Match. This award has been won by All Blacks like Jeff Wilson, Jerry Collins and Ardie Savea.
Isaiah Papalii (Mount Albert GS) - The Warriors bound loose forward was named by Sky TV as the Land Rover First XVplayer of the year. The powerful and skilful back rower proved to be a match winner for MAGS. He scored tries in the Auckland final and National top four semis and final. Additionally in a top of the table round-robin fixture against Sacred Heart College he bagged a hat-trick. Papalii would almost certainly have been selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools had it not been for his league commitments.
Keanu Kereru-Symes (Hastings BHS) - Hastings BHS made the National Top Four final for the first time, winning 18 consecutive games along the way, including a first Super 8 title since 2004. The captaincy and scrummaging stability of Kereru-Symes was a major catalyst for Hastings’ success. Hastings scored more tries than any other major First XV in New Zealand and the 'follow me' graft of Kereru-Symes was a major factor in this. Kereru-Symes excellence was acknowledged when he was selected for the New Zealand Barbarians.
“I am still shocked. I was pretty surprised. I thought Harry Plummer would get it,” Sione Havili reflects on his awarding of the Bronze Boot prize as the best preformed New Zealand player in the secondary schools rugby test against Australia in October.
Havili was the third player from Auckland Grammar School after Ben Atiga (2000) and Akira Ioane (2013) to scoop the award.
Since the inception of the prize in 1992 the following All Blacks have been bestowed the honour: Jeff Wilson (1992), Carlos Spencer (1993), Carl Hayman (1997), Jerry Collins (1998), Ben Atiga (2000), Liam Messam (2002), Victor Vito (2004), Charlie Ngatai (2007), Sam Cane (2009) and Ardie Savea (2011).
Havili shifted from Tonga to New Zealand as a shy 14-year-old and attained a rugby scholarship at Auckland Grammar School. He spent three years in the First XV, playing 40 games and earning the captaincy of the side in his final year as well as a prefect badge. This success has forced him to remain in New Zealand.
“I have signed with Auckland for two years. I will play for College Rifles. I am really looking forward to it,” Havili enthuses.
Havili’s parents live not from Nuku’alofa and despite missing his folks he dreams of becoming an All Black.
“Auckland Grammar has changed my life. Mr Askew, Mr Hansen and all my teachers and the boys have helped me become the person I am today,” Havili acclaims.
Havili also admires Beyonce.
“I listen to Halo before every game and it puts me in the right place. Beyonce always makes me feel better when I’m missing home or preparing for a game,” he says.
Havili says his favourite game with the First XV was the 2014 1A championship final which Grammar won against Saint Kentigern College.
“I didn’t play that game because we had more than two internationals, but I was so pleased to be a part of that season,” Havili recalls.
This year Grammar disappointed in 1A finishing seventh, but he says he learned a lot.
“I learned you can’t always be perfect. I became a better player from the mistakes I made and learned how to treat others better,” Havili admits.
Havili removed his favourite foods taro and Lu Sipi from his diet to improve his fitness, a decision that paid off. Havili made a jolting tackle which resulted in New Zealand’s first try against Australia and had a powerful all-round game that suggests he is well on his way to a big future.
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