Payton Takimoana has had rugby on her mind from a young age.
“I have known about rugby ever since I can remember and I have been playing since I was five,” she said.
“Ever since I put my hands on that ball, I fell in love with the game.”
Four years ago, at the start of year 10, Payton moved down from Waihi to Mount Maunganui College seeking greater opportunities in sport and education.
“I moved here for a year without my family and stayed with family friends, but then my family moved here as well.
“It has been the best move ever, there have been so many opportunities here.”
Last week one of those opportunities opened up for Payton when she was named as the youngest member of the Bay of Plenty Volcanix squad for the Women’s NPC Farah Palmer Cup competition, which starts this weekend.
Payton, 17, is the only school student selected for BoP in 2021, but she is far from overawed by her selection and possible FPC debut in the coming weeks.
Up to a dozen of her Mount Maunganui Marlins club rugby team teammates are also her provincial teammates.
“All these players have helped me improve a lot and being around and learning off the best players has been so good for me.”
She also regularly trains at the nearby Adams High Performance Centre – home of the Black Ferns Men’s and Women’s Sevens training squads.
“I have been training with the BoP players about five times a week." This also includes rubbing shoulders with the Black Ferns players. “I am close friends with some of them, so I know them well.”
A few weeks ago, Payton was part of the Marlins team that won a thrilling 2021 BoP Women's Premier club rugby final, beating Rangiuru 25-24 with a last-gasp winning penalty after conceding a 79th minute try. This was Payton’s club’s maiden club rugby title in her second season in the team.
Payton played second five-eighth that day, but that is not her usual position. “I played at 12, but I had been playing first-five throughout the season and also last year.”
Following the final, she was picked in a wider BoP Women’s initial wider squad and has already played two pre-season games. They beat Hawke’s Bay 29-17 and lost to Counties Manukau 5-12. “That was a definite step up for me– I found it more aggressive and faster than club rugby, but I loved it.”
In those games she played variously at fullback, wing and first-five – so her versatility and utility value as a fresh face in the backs is a strength.
Last week she was waiting for the selection announcement by her phone. “I was checking social media every couple of minutes and when I saw my name I was happy!”
She also plays rugby for her school team, who play every Monday in a Baywide competition. “But we only play 10-a-side rugby because we don’t have enough girls players."
That may change in the future now that Payton is showing the way for the younger sports girls coming through.
She plays sevens rugby, but her school hasn’t been able to muster a side to attend the Condor 7s tournament in her time there.
“But last year I made the New Zealand Maori U18 sevens team who played in the World Schools Sevens tournament that was played a week after Condors. I have also just the New Zealand Maori U18 15-a-side camp, which is coming up later this month in Rotorua.”
She has also represented BoP in U16s and U18s sevens and a highlight was playing a touring Japanese side.
She also has a background in other sports, having played netball when young and more recently basketball, although this year her sole focus is on rugby. A recent school and age-grade representative basketball teammate has been Melika Samia who recently made the selection camp for the New Zealand Tall Ferns as the only school player to do so.
In the summer she used to do athletics in Waihi and plays touch “I play in whanau teams on Wednesday and Thursday nights, it is mostly social touch, but I used to play for Thames Valley touch up in Paeroa.”
As well as all the talented rugby players and sportspeople Payton regularly rubs shoulders with, another key influence on her is her father.
“Definitely my dad. He used to play rugby in Waihi and I have always looked up to him and he was a major reason why I started playing when I was young."
She also thanks her teachers at school for helping her get to where she is.
On the subject of school and the future, her obvious goal is to see how far her rugby career can go. “But on top that I may go to Toi Ohomai and look to do a sport and recreation course.
“And to work up to trying to make the Black Ferns team – that has been my goal for so many years.
In the meantime, a possible Farah Palmer Cup debut beckons for Payton.
The Volcanix open their season and the competition this Saturday afternoon against Auckland at Eden Park, followed by matches over the following several weeks against Counties Manukau (away), Waikato (home), Canterbury (away), Otago (home) and Wellington (home).
Interview and story by Steven White, for College Sport Media. July 2021. Photos by Rick Moran/BoP Rugby.
The city of Nelson is named after Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar. The British flag officer in the Royal Navy was renowned for his inspirational leadership, grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics. In the last dozen years of his life he functioned with one eye too.
Even the most one-eyed Nelson supporter would have surely flagged their prospects of retaining the Quadrangular title midway through the final against hosts Christ’s College.
Down 20-3, Nelson was cracked open three times, the same way. Assertive forward charges were followed by skip passes from pivot Jack Shearer to the flying wing of Jack Belcher who completed a first-half hat-trick. Christ’s were held up over the strip and denied from a narrow forward pass too.
Nelson’s only hint of promise was late in the first-half when they enjoyed prolonged possession.
Strategy and tactics for Nelson? Simple. Abort the kick and retain the ball even if that’s unconventional deep inside the 22. The leadership came from centre Ollie Inch and the seniors in the pack, most notably hooker Dylan Irvine and brutish flanker Netani Baleisomosomo.
It was a searing break by Irvine from 22 to 22 that super-charged the Nelson resurgence. A penalty and lineout maul stuffed the Christ’s pack and the score was 20-8.
The Nelson bench supplied additional punch with loose forward Joseph Domoni at the forefront. His gilding run created space and a try for Luc Waterman-Thomas. The sideline conversion to Cooper Grant shaved the deficit to 20-15.
Without fear of exaggeration Baleisomosomo might have handled 40 times throughout. His raw power and workrate was a sight to behold and when his blonde mop of hair was last to emerge from a pile of bodies it was 20-20 with 20 minutes left.
Christ’s, at last, pilfered a turnover but Shearer was off target with the penalty shot. However Nelson’s stray in discipline reopened the door for the hosts who soon took the lead with a lineout drive of their own.
Shearer plays with a maturity beyond his years and a cross kick to the right wing led to a dispute involving multiple hands and a denied Christ’s try. They had hit posts with an earlier conversion as well!
Those near misses would be punished by the visitors' military precision. A relentless barrage of “pick and goes” and “one-off the ruck” surges positioned Nelson near the Christ’s sticks.
Irvine-intervention! Dylan thrust ahead and muscled over with the last play of the game. The conversion was kicked by Grant and Nelson salvaged an improbable 27-25 triumph. Nelson have won the tournament 27 times and five times in the last seven years.
Whanganui Collegiate beat Wellington College 24-15 in the consolation final. Stafford Lithgow (2) and Henry Strang scored tries with three conversions and a penalty added by Shaun O'Leary. Stanley Solomon kicked an early penalty for Wellington who were otherwise chasing the game, despite tries from Sam Meo and Tofuka Paongo.
Whanganui failed to win a single quad match from 2007 to 2017. Under the guidance of Englishman Steve Simpson they have restored a flagging reputation. They are currently third in the Central North Island series with six victories in seven matches, and almost certainly guaranteed a semi-final place in a tourney that features perennially strong opposition like: Wesley College, Lindisfarne College, St Paul’s Collegiate, Feilding High School and St Peter’s Cambridge.
On day one Nelson College defeated Whanganui Collegiate 41-14 and the hosts edged Wellington College 28-23 in another genuine thriller.
Nelson and Whanganui started at a breakneck speed with three cracking tries scored in the first 10 minutes. Gradually the Nelson pack assumed control with productive lineout drives and an assertive scrum. The halftime score was 17-7. Nelson scored quickly after the break to make it 24-7 at which point Whanganui were unlikely winners, despite some daring and occasionally clinical back play.
It was perhaps ironic then lock Harvey Mayer and hooker Adam Beard were the source of Whanganui’s tries. O’Leary added two conversions and beside centre Waqa Waqaicece was constructive and dangerous.
Baleisomosomo was damaging and his try under the posts in the 37th minute was a rich reward. Irvine was busy and bustling, and crashed over from a maul. Grant ran a steady ship at ten and Inch had the last say.
It took an inspired period of 10 minutes for Christ’s College to overcome Wellington College 28-23. In a game of frequent lead changes, Wellington scored their third, and most spectacular, try with about 20 minutes remaining to nudge ahead 20-17.
Rampant wing Josh Williams barged down the left touchline to help the visitors wriggle out of their territory. The ball was then transferred right for No.8 Ashton Teau who chipped ahead. A chase ensured and hooker Michael Gordon gathered on the fly, outpacing a pack of retreating chasers.
Shearer then employed his boot with equally damaging effect, cross kicking for fullback Angus Hammett who gathered on the full, stumbled in an ankle tap a metre before the sideline, and fired inside to No.8 Hendrix ‘Voodoo Child’ Taylor who touched down.
Shearer added two further penalties to stretch Christ’s advantage to 28-20. Taylor spearheaded an imperious forward effort which suggested Wellington would wilt completely. However, Wellington rallied and a Stanley Solomon penalty sliced the deficit to five forcing Christ’s into tackle mode for the remainder of time.
With the support of a boisterous crowd, Christ’s started strongly and captain Johnny Lee opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Lee was briefly subdued when Wellington second-five Ben Gordon and Williams breached the defense out wide but the classy blindside showed his resolve with a second try as Christ’s lead was 15-12 at the interval.
A shout out to the gruff voiced Sideline commentator. All four matches were announced with boundless enthusiasm.
Quadrangular Tournament history:
Just prior to kick-off of the opening 2019 Top 4 girls semi-final between Onehunga High School (representing the Blues region) and Christchurch Girls’ High School (South Island) this humble correspondent asked a group of CGHS supporters who to look out for in their team.
“Our year 11 openside flanker,” they responded in unison, pointing to Jorja Miller in centre field waiting for the referee’s whistle to get the match underway.
By halftime, their punditry was justified. The openside was having a blinder, tearing into anything that moved on defence and creating numerous chances on attack. Her second half performance was just as ebullient as CGHS went on to win 57-7.
Meanwhile, over the trees on the main field at Massey, defending champions Hamilton Girls’ High School enjoyed a 50-7 win over hometown school Manukura.
How would Christchurch and their young openside fare against Hamilton’s superior power and size in the final? As it transpired, Hamilton won the final comfortably, dominating the physical exchanges and winning 58-17.
But once again, it was the performance of Jorja Miller that stood out. She picked up from where she left off and ripped into the opposition in a fearless display in a losing cause.
Jorja was College Sport Media’s Player of the 2019 Top 4, following on from Alena Saili (Southland Girls’ High School) in 2016, Dhys Faleafaga (St Mary’s College) in 2017 and Jazmin Hotham (Hamilton GHS) in 2018 – all in winning teams.
Fast-forward almost two years, and Jorja has recently been named as the only current school player in the Canterbury Women’s NPC squad for the upcoming Farah Palmer Cup national provincial competition.
She is coming off her first full season club rugby. “I have been playing all year so far for the High School Old Boys team. We lost our playoff for third and fourth last weekend against Canterbury University, but this year I have got to know many of the players now in the Canterbury squad.”
This past weekend, Jorja and the squad had an internal camp, ahead of pre-season matches against Otago and the Canterbury Development team.
“It was my goal to make the Canterbury team, but considering it was my first year playing senior rugby and being still at school I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready for it. But then having been selected it was awesome to get the phone call from the coach!”
The Christchurch Girls’ High School team are the seven-time Canterbury schoolgirls competition champions, and their season is well underway.
“Although we have only had a few games, the weather has been average, and some have been cancelled.”
The final is set down for 11 August, with the winner playing the Otago/Southland winner for the right to represent the South Island at the Top 4. The Top 4 tournament has also been pushed back a couple of weeks this year to later in September.
There was no Top 4 tournament last year because of Covid, but Jorja is one of several players returning from 2019.
She is the vice-captain of her school team this year, with first-five Mia Cochrane the captain.
Mia and loose forward Holly Wratt Groeneweg are in the Canterbury FPC Development team, while year 10 midfielder Kelera Qalivutu is an up-and-coming player to watch.
CGHS also has a second XV in 2021, filled with some exciting Year 9 and 10 talent. The school plans to enter an U15 team at the Condors 7s for the first time later in the year.
From South Canterbury and a student at Timaru Girls’ High School in years 9 and 10 before starting as a boarder at CGHS in year 11, Jorja has been playing rugby most of her life.
“I started when I was four. I was always playing rugby with my brothers in the backyard and my dad played rugby as well, so I grew up around the game and naturally started playing.”
She started off in the backs. “I always played halfback until U12s and then in a rep trial they needed someone to fill in at openside flanker and I ended up playing there and staying there.”
She also played for the Dutch-NZ U18 Women’s team in year 10 and toured overseas and played games in London, Paris and Amsterdam.
“Although I am not Dutch at all! I got invited to play for the team by a coach and joined the team that way.”
As well as 15s rugby, Jorja loves sevens and has found success in the shorter form of the game in recent years.
In fact, she was named in the Condor 7s tournament team two years running and was Player of the Tournament in 2019 when she helped CGHS win the title for the first time in the annual national schools tournament that is played in Auckland every December.
Jorja scored four tries in the final as CGHS beat Howick College 29-14 in the 2019 decider.
They were not able to match the feat in 2020. “We lost our semi-final to Manukura [19-24], which was pretty gutting, but I think looking back we could have worked harder and that would have got us up.”
She has also played in the World Schools 7s tournament in each of the past two years, for the Condor 7s Tournament Team, reaching the semi-finals in 2019 and winning in 2020. “We won last year but that was an internal Aotearoa tournament with no international teams because of Covid.”
This April she played in Wellington in New Zealand Rugby’s Takiwhitu Tūturu sevens weekend, which culminated in two games at Wellington Stadium either side of a Crusaders-Hurricanes Super Rugby game.
“I was part of the Black Ferns Sevens squad, and then we split into two even teams and played each other plus a Moana Pasifika team and a composite Black Ferns team. I really enjoyed that weekend and learnt a lot.”
What rugby format does she prefer?
“At the moment I prefer sevens, because it suits the way I play rugby better. More space, more opportunities to run with the ball. But this 15s season has been really fun so far and I am really enjoying that as well.”
Rugby is not her only sport.
“Highland Dancing is my other passion. I find the two sports complement each other and it helps my rugby. I compete in New Zealand competitions, which is once a year.”
In her last year of school, Jorja hopes to continue with rugby into the future.
“Hopefully, I can go down the Black Ferns Sevens pathways, but I am also thinking of doing health science and becoming a physio.”
Article and photos unless otherwise credited by Steven White, for College Sport Media.
Curtis Heaphy is a young sportsman of Maori ancestry from Palmerston North Boys’ High School who has excelled in both the First XI cricket and First XV rugby teams.
With a willingness to take a risk, composure under pressure, and notable successes in both codes he is inevitably drawn comparisons to Ruben Love, a New Zealand age group cricketer of Maori heritage from the same college who represented the Hurricanes in Super Rugby this season.
Two years apart, Heaphy and Love are good friends.
“He trains the house down but has stayed. His success inspires me," Heaphy said.
"I haven't chosen which sport I'm going to play after school yet. I am actually doing a couple of Uni papers because study is important. I want to keep my options open."
Mature judgement helped Heaphy earn selection as captain for the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Maori cricket team. Twice they've been beaten by the Governor General’s XI in an annual fixture but the appointment of Heaphy didn't hurt the cause.
In January he was the leading run scorer in the Super 8 tournament which Palmerston North won for the first time in a decade. Napier Boys’ High School won in 2012 and since then Hamilton Boys’ High School had won every year.
"That would be the highlight of my time at Palmerston North. The tournament was in Napier and we beat Hamilton Boys’ in pool play which basically knocked them out. We posted quite a big score and I made 99 which was a bit disappointing. I tried to hit another six and got caught by Payton Spencer, my good mate on the boundary.
“In the final we played Tauragua Boys.’ We bowled them out for 162 on a green wicket. It was a tricky chase, but we got it done.”
Palmerston North won by five wickets with Heaphy making 87 off 107 balls. He finished the tournament with 212 runs and has made centuries in local club fixtures and against St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.
Last winter Silverstream was the victim of Heaphy’s heroics on the rugby field. He kicked a sideline conversion in the dark, and on a bog, to help Palmerston North win the Old Boys Cup 13-12.
“We spent the whole second-half in their 22 and couldn’t score. It is pretty frustrating. I remember we put a cross-kick out to the winger who unfortunately didn’t manage to score on that occasion but luckily, he scored a little later when we took some risk to get it wide again.
“I do practice my kicking a lot and try not to kick it too hard. I have a process I go through and trust.
“My family is very supportive. I owe them everything.”
Heaphy has been a trusted member of the First XV since 2019. That was an exceptional season for Palmerston North. Third in Super 8 they reached the Hurricanes Regional final, losing to eventual National champions Hastings Boys’ High School.
“We had a big pack. I would rather play with them than against them. We beat Scots coming from 17-0 behind which was a big highlight. Ruben Love played awesome that day. Super 8 was really good because the only teams that beat us were Hamilton and Hastings who were in the National Top Four.”
Fifth in the 2020 Super 8 wasn’t the greatest result, but two matches were lost by less than a converted try and Hastings Boys’ High School overpowered 25-8.
Palmerston North have made a strong start to 2021 toppling quality opposition like: Francis Douglas Memorial College, Whanganui Collegiate School, Gisborne Boys’ High School, St Pats Town, Wellington, College, Lindisfarne College and Auckland Grammar School.
“I prefer first-five, where I’m playing this year. I like to get my hands on the ball and be involved, attacking and kicking when needed. We’ve got a lot of good players and I hope the experienced boys can lead by example and help us have a good season.
He has been a Hurricanes and Manawatu Under 16 representative.
Christ’s College have defeated Christchurch Boys’ High School in consecutive years for first time since 1997.
An exhilarating contest, in postcard conditions at Straven Road, finished 35-34 in the visitors favour.
The last of six lead changes secured victory for Christ’s. With two minutes to spare, second-five Callum Summerfield kicked a penalty goal from directly in front of the posts 15-meters out. It was his sixth success at goal in a near faultless performance.
Christ’s started with polish and aggression, deserving of their 8-0 lead. Summerfield opened the scoring after five minutes with a penalty before fullback Angus Hammett latched upon a kick by Ben Ward that was fumbled by Christchurch inside their own 22. The conversion attempt by Summerfield was smacked into the left-hand upright, his only blemish from the tee.
Christchurch fullback Jack White nailed all six of his shots and a penalty from just outside the 22 opened the hosts account. Summerfield quickly responded for Christ’s to make it 11-3.
Both sides would fall victim to charged-down kicks and a deflection and gather by Christchurch wing Noah Saukuru saw a try in the left corner, supremely converted by White.
In the 24th minute a series a barging charges by the forwards saw Christ’s enter the 22. Wing Shane Rutherford-Bradford carried on the shoving all the way to the line.
The halftime score was 18-10 with the last ten minutes of the first-half highlighted by staunch tackling, cagey territorial kicking and multiple turnovers leading to impulsive attack.
Christchurch burst out of the blocks and charged to a 24-18 advantage seven minutes after the resumption. Centre Guy Jensen, often difficult to restrain, wriggled through traffic and released White who supplied Lachie Cartwright in a sweeping movement that stretched both touchlines and 60-meters.
Christ’s was then isolated in their own-half after a panic lineout. A turnover occurred and Riley Brewis scored after the feverish forwards had Christ’s in retreat.
Christchurch’s lead was short-lived. A charge down from the kick-off saw lock Jonny Lee collect and scamper clear. It was a legendary moment from the captain. Summerfield converted to make it 25-24.
Already a cracker, the quality of the spectacle soared to even greater heights with little interruption from the referee. Both sides showed great intent, discipline, and skill as it became evident little separated them.
White kicked Christchurch ahead 27-25 with an angled penalty from 35-meters, but the deft boot of Rutherford-Bradford saw Hammett outpace the defence and Christ’s lead 30-27. The try was started at halfway after the ball was handled right to left by forwards and backs in a thrilling passage of passing.
With the heavier pack Christchurch was able to pressure in the scrums. They won a tighthead and reserve outside back Will Lindsay touched down in the right corner after a dummy-cut in midfield spilt open the defense. Another conversion to White made the score 34-32.
The winning penalty for Christ’s wasn’t contentious. It came from a textbook breakdown turnover as Christchurch risked preserving possession inside their own quarter. The last three wins by Christ’s over Christchurch have been single pointers.
No.8 Hendrix Taylor is worthy of acclaim for Christ’s. His bustling industry caused pain for Christchurch and might earn him the nickname Voodoo if any of the kids still listen to rock ‘n roll.
Further North in the Miles Toyota Championship, Marlborough Boys’ College stunned Nelson College 20-17 to inflict a first defeat of the season upon 2019 champions Nelson.
After four rounds of the competition nine teams already have at least two wins. St Thomas of Canterbury College and Timaru Boys’ High School are the unlikely leaders with four wins each. Christ’s College jumps to third while Christchurch are sixth with two bonus points earned for their efforts today.
Head to Head
Christchurch Boys’ High School Wins: 84
Christ College Wins: 44
The curtain falls on the 2019 College Rugby season with this weekend’s 33rd playing of the NZSSCondor 7s tournament. Fifty-six sides will descend on Auckland’s King’s College, who have succeeded Sacred Heart as hosts for the next two years.
In the Boys division, 31 teams will be out to de-throne Hamilton Boys’ High School, who’s six titles overall include the last four. A fifth straight for the Waikato powerhouse would set a record, breaking the tie for consecutive championships they currently share with Kelston Boys’ High School (2011-14).
As defending champions Hamilton BHS is the seeded side in Pool A, and should have few issues against Southland’s Gore HS, debutant minnows Mercury Area School out of the Thames Valley region, and Whangarei Boys’ High School in progressing to Sunday’s Cup section.
So who are the likely challengers to Hamilton’s crown?
Fellow Super 8 school Rotorua Boys’ High School are past winners and certainly have the pedigree and will be hungry after finishing runners-up to their great rivals last year. Scots College and Feilding HS are both perennial contenders though neither have yet claimed this title, having each been runners-up three times.
Feilding were beaten quarter-finalists a year ago while Scots fell at the semi-finals, both beaten by Rotorua. However these three all face appreciably different assignments just to make the Cup section; Rotorua are drawn in a tough Pool C with National XV’s Champions Hastings Boys’, 2018 quarter-finalists De La Salle College, and Rangitoto College, with Feilding in Pool D alongside 2018 semi-finalists Sacred Heart, past winners Wesley College, and Christchurch Boys’. By contrast Scots will face St Peter’s, Whanganui Collegiate, and Manurewa HS.
Outside of the aforementioned Hastings, Sacred Heart, and De La Salle consider the likes of Timaru Boys’ High School (quarter-finalists the last two years), past winners Kelston and Mt Albert Grammar, Taranaki pair New Plymouth Boys’ High and Francis Douglas, and local side Aorere College. The format is brutal though as without any crossover games only the pool winners will proceed to the Cup section, which will leave some very good sides consigned to the Bowl and Plate sections for Sunday. As one example Rotorua and Hastings will clash in their very first game of the weekend.
Four schools; Otago duo Otago Boys’ and Kings HS, past winners Gisborne Boys’, and Westlake Boys’ have all declined their places after qualifying at the regional stage. Their places have been taken by St Peter’s Auckland, Howick College, Pukekohe HS, and Christchurch’s Shirley Boys’.
Across in the Girls division, Hamilton Girls’ High have been almost as dominant as their city counterparts winning three titles in the past five years and being runners-up in the other two, and it’s hard to look past them as favourites once again.
The chief challengers include some familiar names; 2016 winners St Mary’s (Wellington) have re-tooled while Christchurch Girls’ have been finalists and semi-finalists the past two years and have recent Top 4 15s rugby experience, and Manawatu school Manukura have been in the Cup picture as well. Howick College were perhaps a surprising winner last year but expect them to put up a stout defence of their title.
With the Girls game still in a somewhat evolving stage, there’s a host of change from last year's field. For example three schools that made the Cup quarters last year – Gisborne Girls’, Putaruru College, and Sacred Heart New Plymouth – have failed to return in 2019; while others make their debut. That group includes Wellington’s Queen Margaret College, Inglewood HS, Waikato Diocesan, Paeroa College, and Taupo-nui-a-Tia College.
Somewhat bizarrely and without any real explanation from the organisers, the Girls draw has not only last year's finalists both in the same pool but also playing each other first-up. In fact Pool B seems inordinately strong, with not just Hamilton and Howick but Southland and New Plymouth Girls’ High’s as well. However, with just 24 teams in six pools a loss in pool play may not prove fatal to a side’s title chances as two “lucky losers” will join the pool winners in progressing to Sunday’s Cup round.
The Condor’s tournament got underway today with the two-day Under 15 editions, whereas with the senior event Hamilton Boys’ High and Howick College are the respective defending champions.
Open Tournament Pools
Pool A: Hamilton BHS (Wai), Whangarei BHS (Nth), Mercury Bay School (TV), Gore HS (Sth)
Pool B: Tauranga BHS (BoP), Marlborough BC (Tas), Aorere College (Akl), Kings College (Akl)
Pool C: Rotorua BHS (BoP), Hastings BHS (HB), De La Salle College (Akl), Rangitoto Coll (NH)
Pool D: Scots College (Wgn), St Peter’s (Akl), Wanganui Collegiate (Wan), Manurewa HS (C-M)
Pool E: Feilding HS (Man), Wesley College (C-M), Christchurch BHS (Can), Sacred Heart (Akl)
Pool F: Francis Douglas (Tar), Mt Albert GS (Akl), Pukekohe HS (C-M), Kerikeri HS (Nth)
Pool G: New Plymouth BHS (Tar), Kelston BHS (Akl), Lindisfarne College (HB), Shirley BHS (Can)
Pool H: Timaru BHS (SC), St Pats Town (Wgn), Palmerston North BHS (Man), Howick College (Akl)
Pool A: Mt Albert GS (Akl), Whangarei GHS (Nth), Waikato Diocesan (Wai), Paeroa College (TV)
Pool B: Howick College (Akl), Hamilton GHS (Wai), Southland GHS (Sth), New Plymouth GHS (Tar)
Pool C: Manukura (Man), Feilding HS (Man), Kerikeri HS (Nth), Taupo-nui-a-Tia College (KC)
Pool D: Christchurch GHS (Can), Aorere College (Akl), Long Bay College (NH), Tauranga GC (BoP)
Pool E: St Mary’s College (Wgn), Manurewa HS (C-M), Westlake GHS (NH), Inglewood HS (Tar)
Pool F: Motueka HS (Tas), Wesley College (C-M), Lytton HS (PB), Queen Margaret College (Wgn)
With four older rugby playing brothers, including All Black Lima, it is little surprise that Queen Margaret College’s Sopoaga sisters are turning heads on the rugby field.
Older sister Te Araroa (year 13) and Naomi (year 10) were both in top form for their school side in Monday’s Wellington Condor 7s qualifying tournament, helping their team book one of two places on offer for the national tournament in December.
QMC will join 2016 national Condors champions St Mary’s College in Auckland in early December, after St Mary’s beat QMC 26-10 to win their fifth straight Wellington final.
“We were just really happy to qualify for Auckland and play in the national tournament. For all of us as a group, it is just another chance for us to play together in another tournament and hopefully we can do well,” said Te Araroa.
The team only came together for the first time this year for Monday’s tournament. The last rugby they played together and that most of them played at all was last year’s Condors qualifiers.
“Last year we won a few games but just missed in a couple more. We lost to St Mary’s and Sacred Heart and didn’t get to the semis.”
On Monday, QMC opened their tournament with a 20-5 win over Sacred Heart College, before beating St Mary’s 10-7 in their second game, that saw St Mary’s pressing hard in the dying stages before a length of the field breakout try to Paris Lokotui won the match. QMC then beat Wellington East 22-0 and then the St Mary’s second team 24-10 in the semi-final.
In the final, St Mary’s 1 burst out of the gates to establish a three-try lead and went on to win. Te Araroa scored for QMC just before halftime, but St Mary’s sealed victory with another second half try.
“After the semi-final, we knew we had qualified for the Condors so playing St Mary’s in the final was a good learning curve for us and we took a lot out of it,” enthused Te Araroa.
This will be QMC’s first taste of the Condors, but some of the players won’t be lacking for big game experience having excelled on the national stage in other codes such as basketball and netball.
Te Araroa spent much of this season playing netball for QMC in the defensive circle with Paris Lokotui who was selected as part of the NZSS netball squad earlier this year.
QMC finished fifth in Wellington and 17th of 32 teams and won the Plate final over Lytton High School in September’s Lower North Island Netball Tournament.
Te Araroa plays as a small forward in basketball and was a key member of their team that finished fifth at the AA Nationals in Palmerston North at the start of October, after being runner-up to Sacred Heart New Plymouth in the Zone qualifiers.
“We lost our quarter-final match at basketball nationals by 2 against Westlake Girls’ High School. Before that we won all our games and topped our pool and beat Hamilton Girls’ High School in a top-of-the-table clash, which was a really big upset.”
Te Araroa and Paris (Paris made the basketball nationals tournament team) and several other QMC students are involved in a combination of or all three basketball netball and rugby 7s codes.
On top of that, Te Araroa also plays volleyball and a bit of touch rugby. “Except for netball, my sister also Naomi plays all the same sports and in the same teams as me, which is good.”
Te Araroa and Naomi are following in the footsteps of their four brothers. Lima is the oldest, followed by Tupou, Ezekiel and Toka. All four went to Wellington College.
“I think growing up, just being around them all the time they kind of influenced me to follow and like rugby and I just kind of fell in to playing it when I got the chance to.”
Coming up, Te Araroa has four NCEA exams, the last one just before QMC heads off to Condors. Following that she is undecided as to what she will be doing next year – but what is certain is sport will be a big part of it.
The Queen Margaret College basketball team that finished runner-up at the AA Nationals was:
Rosie Campbell, Samantha Jenkins, Paris Lokotui, Maia Mariner, Sarina Musa, Tia Pavihi, Naomi Sopoaga, Te Araroa Sopoaga, Lilly Taulelei, Rangi Tawera
The Queen Margaret College rugby 7s team that qualified for the Condor Nationals in December was (team subject to change for the Condors):
Bridget Horgan, Lilly Harris Williams, Ruby Treadwell, Riley Newell, Naomi Sopoaga, Kitana Tawera, Paris Lokotui, Maia Moe Jenkins, Ajah Pritchard Lolo, Jessie Rongen, Te Araroa Sopoaga, Melania Lui-Fa'I, Sarah Caddis, Natalia Bennett
Promising New Zealand school-boy player Jacob Kneepkens has signed with the All Blacks Sevens for two years.
The Francis Douglas High School 1st XV co-captain will move to Tauranga to join the sevens programme at the end of the school year.
In 2018 Kneepkens was a member of the New Zealand Schools squad, made the tournament team at the Condor Sevens and was MVP at the inaugural Red Bull Ignite7 tournament.
The accolades continued this year as he was named in the All Blacks Sevens Development team before returning to play in the New Zealand Schools team for a second campaign.
All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw said Kneepkens’ potential was clear to see.
“Jacob was part of our development programme earlier this year and we could see what a naturally talented athlete he is. And it’s not only on the field, he has a strong work ethic and is an impressive young man.
“It’s exciting to know he will be joining our environment for the next two seasons, we’re looking forward to fostering his development both on and off the field,” said Laidlaw.
Kneepkens follows in the footsteps of emerging stars including Rieko Ioane, Vilimoni Koroi and Etene Nanai-Seturo who started their professional rugby careers in the All Blacks Sevens programme.
He also follows in the footsteps of such players as the Barrett brothers and current Wellington Lions captain Duplessi Kirifi as Francis Douglas Memorial College players.
Two years ago Kneepkens caught the attention of rugby league scouts, signing an academy contract with the Parramatta Eels
The squad is preparing for the start of their 2019/2020 season which packs in 10 World Series tournaments before the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Before the first World Series event in Dubai this December the squad will compete at the annual Oceania Sevens in Fiji.
“I’m a rugby player not Jamie Oliver,” Ridge Studd responded when asked to explain an injury which kept him out of the Under 18 Centurions representative team for a fortnight.
Studd burnt his leg badly while cooking an egg.
“I was cooking poached eggs and went to check a Mitre 10 Cup score. When I returned to the kitchen the pot was frothing. I went to switch off the element, but knocked the pot and the water spilled down my leg,” Studd recalled.
“It bloody hurt, but I only thought I needed some cold water and a bandage. When my sister got home she insisted I go to the hospital where I was told it was more serious.”
Studd is no cook, but he does have the right ingredients on a footy field. Studd was the captain of the Wellington College First XV this season, and though his team struggled, Studd’s consistency at openside flanker was recognised when he was appointed co-captain of the Under 18 Centurions. Studd provides an insight into his leadership philosophy.
“As a captain I try to lead by example and bring a die for the jersey approach. In every team there are boys who want to be in the team and boys who really don’t. Although we didn’t win many games at Wellington College, I was lucky to have the support of a lot of boys who brought the same attitude.”
The Centurions have brought a positive attitude to the Hurricanes Under 18 provincial tournament. The defending Trust Bank Central Secondary Schools Provincial champions will seek to defend their title on Saturday when they travel to Cooks Gardens to tackle Whanganui Under 18.
Whanganui have beaten Poverty Bay (51-22), East Coast (40-14) and the Hawke’s Bay Saracens (41-18) to earn top spot by a point. Whanganui is largely comprised of boys from the Collegiate First XV who had their most successful season in many years. Whanganui beat Wellington College (5-32) at the annual quadrangular tourney in July.
“Whanganui were quite niggly, and clever when they were niggly. They were quick to pounce on our mistakes and had a couple of key players who were damaging. The Fijian 8 ran it from everywhere while the 12 was good on attack and defence,” Studd observed.
The Centurions greatest strength appears to be togetherness and leadership.
“We’ve had 36 players in the team this year, all of whom are still part of the team,” Studd stresses.
“We’ve got five boys who are first year out of school and some Scots boys who have returned after their season ended. We’ve got leaders across the park which makes good playing a whole lot easier.”
The Centurions have had wins over Wairarapa Bush (36-22), the Wellington Samoans (17-12) and Horowhenua-Kapiti (62-10).
Last year, the Centurions beat Wairarapa Bush 50-10 in the final, while Whanganui were sixth out of eight teams.
Studd, fullback Bill Tamani (Tawa College) and midfielder Sage Shaw-Tait (Scots College) each scored a double in the crushing of Horowhenua-Kapiti. Better usage of territory was the telling factor in the slender success over the Samoans.
HIBS prop Harry Press (called up to the NZ Barbarians School squad) and workhorse lock Bede Brown (Rongotai College) are two forwards who have flourished in the campaign. The Centurions backline has been spearheaded by first-five Richard Evans (Hutt Valley High School).
Police detective and Tawa club affiliated Damian Rapira-Davies is the Centurions head coach. Studd concluded with affirmation for another member of the team.
“Daniel Peckston is one of our managers, not officially, but he’s one of those rare guys who does everything from folding jerseys to running touch. He’s a bit lippy, which is sometimes annoying, but we love him. Daniel’s passion for the game is what it’s all about.”
Daniel is a current student of Hutt Valley High School.
The Hurricanes U18 provinical tournament final between the Whanganui U18s and the Centurions U18s kicks off at Cooks Gardens, Whanganui on Saturday at 12.45pm.
The New Zealand Māori Rugby Board has today announced the Māori Under 18 teams for 2019.
The New Zealand Māori U18 Ngā Whatukura team will face Fiji Schools and also play in the game of three halves against New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Schools Barbarians in Palmerston North later this month.
Players have been identified through regional and national camps and selected on form from school, regional and club rugby.
New Zealand Māori Rugby Board Chair Dr Farah Palmer said she was excited to see young Maori talent recognised in the naming of these teams.
“It will be great to see the mana of Māori rugby on display over the next two weeks as the NZ Māori U18 Ngā Whatukura team play Fiji Schools in Rotorua and also take on the New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Barbarians schools teams in a game of three halves in Palmerston North.
“This team represents the future of Māori rugby and our next generation of Māori talent whom I’m sure will move onto higher honours,” said Palmer.
The New Zealand Māori Rugby Board also acknowledged and celebrated the players selected in the U18 Ngā Mareikura team. While there is no match for the under 18 girls in 2019, Palmer said the Board wanted to congratulate the efforts of the young wahine athletes this season and commented that efforts were being made to ensure a programme for this team would be established in future years.
The Ngā Whatukura team will assemble in Rotorua on 17 September before matches against Fiji Schools (22 September) and in the game of three halves in Palmerston North against the New Zealand Schools and the New Zealand Schools Barbarians (26 September).
New Zealand Māori U18 Ngā Whatukura team is;
Blake Rogers - Scots College - Te Aupouri
Carlos Karaitiana - Rotorua BHS - Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe
Cassius Misa - Te Teko Rugby & Sport Club - Ngāti Kahungunu
Ethan Seed - Francis Douglas MC - Te Atiawa
Harry Hansen - Otago BHS - Ngāti Porou
Hemopo Cunningham - Rotorua BHS - Ngāti Pikiao
Hunter Nuku - Taradale RFC - Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tai
Jacob Ward - Napier BHS - Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu
Jayden Walker - Napier BHS - Ngāti Kahungunu
Jock McKenzie - Westlake BHS - Ngāti Maniapoto
Jordan Thompson-Dunn - Hastings BHS - Ngāti Kahungunu
Kaharoa Takuira-Mita -Tauranga BHS - Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui
Keegan McGregor - Christchurch BHS - Ngāti Raukawa
Mercedes Hodge - Hastings BHS - Tūwharetoa
Nephi Sanireve - Trident High School - Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau
Nikora Broughton - Arataki Sports Club - Ngāti Ruanui
Niwa Barlow - New Plymouth BHS - Tūwharetoa
Noah Hotham - Hamilton BHS - Ngāi Tai
Rocky Olsen - Whangarei BHS - Ngāti Whātua
Stuart Leach - Rotorua BHS - Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe
Tamaikoha Te Aute - Rangiuru Sports Club - Te Arawa
Taylor Dale - Otago BHS - Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua
Thomas Murray-Edwards - New Plymouth BHS - Ngāti Whakaue
Tiaki Fabish - Old Boys University, Wellington - Ngāti Maniapoto, Te Whānau ā Apanui
Valance Yates - St Kentigern College - Ngāpuhi
Kahu Carey - Head Coach - Rangitāne, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō
Jeremy Wara - Forwards Coach - Tainui, Ngāti Tahinga, Ngāti Tiipa
Ngatai Walker - Backs Coach - Ngāti Porou
Simon Kneebone - Set Piece Coach - Ngāti Porou
Duncan Cameron - Manager - Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa,Te Whānau ā Apanui, Rangitāne
Mihaere Emery - Cultural Advisor - Tahoe, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Ngāti Raukawa
Tiki Edwards - Campaign Manager - Whakatōhea, Ngāti Raukawa
NZ Māori U18 Ngā Mareikura team is;
Jaylyn Campbell Waitakere City Rugby Club Te Rarawa
Tuia Edwards Hastings GHS Ngāti Kahungungu
Vici Rose Green Hamilton GHS Ngāti Maniapoto
Daeja Kaponga Putaruru College Ngāti Raukawa
Jurney Blair Te Rarawa Rugby Club Te Rarawa
Mia Anderson Kerikeri High school Ngāpuhi
Savannah Bodman Kamo High school Ngāpuhi
Raegan Robinson Karamu High school Ngāti Kahungunu
Milly Mackay Petone RFC Ngāti Porou
Alesha Williams New Plymouth GHS Te Atiawa
Mania Nuku Hamilton GHS Ngai Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui
Kelsey Teneti Lytton High School Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau ā Apanui
Shaniqka Wall Nga Paerangi Manukura School Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Cortez Te Pou Tūhoe Karamu High School Ngāti Kahungunu
Raumati Rogers Marlborough Girls College Tūhoe
Charm Sandilands Karamu High School Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu
Holly Topp Tauranga Girls’ College Ngāi Tahu
Layla Te Rini Trident High School Tūwharetoa
Klee Begbie Putaruru College Ngāti Raukawa
Karlee Cruickshank Central Southland Ngāpuhi
Jamie Church Kavanagh Collage Ngāti Maniapoto, Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou
Naia Toaolamai-Holden Christchurch Girls High Te Atiawa, Ngāti Porou
Shania Kohinga North Otago Ngāti Maniapoto Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Jasmine Oconnell Manukura Ngati-Kahungunu, Ngāti-Maniapoto
Calista Ruruku University of Waikato Te Atihaunui-ā-Pāpārangi
Jayson McRoberts Head Coach Ngāti Kahungunu
Caleb Angew-Jones Assistant coach Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa
Geri Paul Assistant Coach Ngāti Awa
Paula Taylor Anderson Manager Te Atiawa
Tamara Toaloamai Assistant manager Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Hāmoa
Tuterangi Nepe-Apatu Support Ngāti Kahungunu
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