St. Bede’s College have completed the fifteen and seven aside rugby double in Christchurch, capturing the Canterbury Sevens title last Friday to earn a place at the Condor Sevens in December.
Zach McKay says the result is extremely pleasing after a somewhat tricky build up.
“We had a few preliminary tournaments before Friday, but hadn’t been able to put our best team on the field until a couple of weeks ago,” he says.
St. Bede’s had a tough group at the Canterbury Sevens with two top four Press Cup teams, McKay describes the early action:
“We had St. Andrew’s first up and beat them by a couple of tries. They were forced to rest some of their imports because of the eligibility rules so that made the game a little bit easier than we thought.”
“Aranui High School was next and they were tough to start with, but we pulled away in the second-half. The toughest game of the whole tournament was against Shirley Boys’ High School. They were a very big and physical side. We fell behind 12-0 at halftime, but managed to pull it back and draw.”
In the semi-finals St. Bede’s accounted for Timaru Boys’ High School while Christchurch Boys’ High School foiled Shirley, booking their place at the Condors.
The final between St. Bede’s and Christchurch proved to be a one man showcase. McKay explains what happened.
“We won 28-14 and Jake Keenan scored all four tries. A couple of them were length of the field efforts and the others were set up for him.”
“Jake is only Year 11. He played for our under-15′s this year who were fourth at Nationals. He is really quick and nuggety. He dropped Tom Christie from the NZ Schools in the Shirley game. He is one to watch,” McKay insists.
McKay scored 18 tries in fifteen aside play this year. He is another one to watch. He says he has made some modifications to his sevens game.
“Last year I was basically a finisher, but this year I have been working on winning kick-offs and looking to set-up more. I want to became a more complete player,” he says.
McKay identifies Sam Dickson and Gillies Kaka as his favourite sevens players and warns Braidan Broughan who scored 12 tries in the Press Cup is another St. Bede’s player to watch at Condors.
At last year’s Condors, St. Bede’s was regulated to the Bowl section. It should be noted however that five of the play off matches were decided in extra time with another eight decided by less than three points reflecting the rise in standard across the country.
St. Bede’s nearly beat runner-ups Scots College – McKay scored two tries in a 26-24 defeat.
McKay says St. Bede’s will “give it their best” and believes, “anything can happen.”
McKay concludes the interview by extending his sympathy and support to Jake Bailey, the head prefect (Senior Monitor) of Christchurch Boys’ High School recently diagnosed with serve cancer whose final address to his college has created global headlines.
“St. Bede’s and Christchurch Boys’ are fierce rivals on the field, but that’s where the rivalry should end. Jake’s speech has had a big impact in the community. We genuinely feel for him and pray he recovers.”
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