Hero photograph
Rugby U16 Boys
Photo by Photolife

Burnside High School Rugby

Mr Dali Ndebele —

The Burnside High School rugby teams on the whole achieved a gratifying degree of progress during the 2018 rugby season, and the most significant achievement was the fruition of our objective to field five teams for the season.

Those who have been around for a while reported that our school’s rugby was the most vibrant it has been for many years and the results indicate that good gains were made across the board. The season kicked off with a few friendlies against local and international teams while the three day pre-season rugby clinic in March also contributed to our level of preparedness and, as a consequence, the teams went on to collectively pick more competition wins than losses. Coaches implemented a values and behaviour approach which yielded positive outcomes on a number of fronts while a big effort was also made to ensure that enjoyment was a constant part of the equation.

Once it was known that the season had been extended because of the weather-induced cancellations, it was announced early on that the 1st XV would only play till the end of the round robin phase, but by the time they signed off, they were in line to progress to the knockouts. By all accounts, it was a very successful campaign and I am certain that had we had the opportunity to play some UC Championship teams, we would have been competitive even against the stronger teams in Canterbury.

The Girls XV, combined again this year with Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, also had a stellar season with the highlight being the victory against Girls’ High. We ended up coming short in the final against the same Girls High team, but with all the internationals having returned to their home countries a week before, we were significantly weakened and our effort was not enough to threaten the very strong and determined perennial winners of the UC Cup.

The U16 Boys team also made it to the final, but succumbed to Suburbs, our bête-noir who were also responsible for our only round-robin defeat. The team played an exciting brand of rugby, scoring some scintillating tries along the way and out-smarting a lot of the opposition.

The U15 Boys started off showing a lot of promise but, as the season wore on, it was felt that they were probably misplaced regarding what section they played in. However, they stuck together as a team till the very end and they deserve credit for their resilience, and in the end they just missed out on a semi-final spot to St Bede’s Under 15B, against whom we produced probably the most thrilling match of the season (and equally most spirited effort out of all the teams) to record an immensely satisfying victory.

The U14 Boys made good progress and the feedback the players gave back was that they worked well as a team and had a ton of fun. Their grade was rearranged towards the end of the season and so they ended up just playing round-robin games without any knockout games involved.

The biggest positive from the season was that we had 120 odd players who participated and represented Burnside Rugby admirably. It was not unusual to hear that teams from various schools and clubs were defaulting games towards the end of the season but all our teams turned up for each and every single match, and whilst it was a mammoth task to field five teams, the players can be proud of the fact that we were able to fulfil all competition games’ obligations. A special word of appreciation goes to the Riccarton HS and Rangi Ruru players for being a part of us and for adding to our numbers - they had to make an extra effort to get across to Burnside after school.

It has been public knowledge for a while that the International Rugby Programme has moved back to St Bede's, its original home, and we would like to thank Mark Ealey and the rest of the IRP staff for their contribution towards BHS Rugby over the years and we wish them all the best for the future. The international players have bolstered our boys and girls rugby during the time they have been with us and they will be sorely missed.

The question on a lot of people’s minds is what impact this will have on BHS Rugby moving forward. Granted, the IRP players strengthened the teams in the past few years, but with the numbers and the fact that this year’s U16s were almost entirely local players, there is hope that our rugby can go from strength to strength. The progress made by the U16 team was particularly encouraging and they will be the core of the 1st XV for the next two years and we are confident that they will be able to challenge all the big teams in Christchurch in the imminent future if they stay on the same trajectory. As for the Girls’ XV, the internationals leave a significant void but the number of local girls playing this year was pleasing, so with a bit more commitment and pertinent skills development, there is no reason why our girls cannot be competitive next year and beyond.

A big thank you goes to the 22 volunteers, who included parents, 3 UC students, S&C personnel, one physio, one video analyst (current Y13 student) and 6 teachers, for the immense amount of time that they put in at practices and at games as coaches and managers of all the teams. They did a fine job of driving our rugby programme and we are grateful for the impetus that their combined contribution added to efforts to strengthen our rugby. Thank you too to Burnside Rugby Football Club for all the support and for hosting our team days where players were afforded great hospitality.

And finally, on behalf of the school and all the players, I would like to express our immense gratitude to all our sponsors; The Mark Bennett Foundation, Mike Greer Homes, Motus Physio, Kiwi Teamwear, Blackwells Mazda, Kevin’s Contracting, Matipo Garage, Team Dunster and Lonestar Papanui. Without them, we would not have achieved the success that we did this season.

Mr Dali Ndebele

Director of Rugby