Hero photograph
Photo by Joe McMenamin

Under 15 Rugby

Hamish Muirhead —

The Under 15 Rugby Team started the year in great fashion with three wins in the first round. 

This allowed the boys to qualify for the Division One competition for the first time in several years. This was a great achievement and gave an indication of the commitment and skill level of the young boys coming through in light of the disappointment of the First XV being pulled from the Senior Rugby Competition.

The team entered pool play and won their first game, giving them confidence and showing that they deserved to be in the top division. Following a couple of close losses, a few rugby lessons from the top rugby schools and finally a win against Kapiti College, the boys finished 6th in the grade leading to a 3rd vs 6th qualification game, with a chance to then play in the Semi Finals.

A team of 15, and only 15, travelled to Rongotai College to seek out a top four spot. Rongotai won the previous encounter with two late tries to run away with the game. The playoff game was tightly contested against a team that had a greater physical size and more numbers than our team of young men. Scores were traded throughout the game and the boys defended a two point deficit for the last quarter of the game, including holding up the largest member of the Rongotai team four times over the try-line. With one minute to go in the game Rongotai received a penalty in front of the posts and in the heat of the moment they took a tap, passed the ball wide and their winger was bundled into touch by Man of the Match, Mafa Metuli Tuluauau, just five metres short of the line. The whistle sounded and a place in the top four of the Wellington Under 15 Division One was secure.

In the final game of the season the boys were humbled by a big, strong, fit and well-drilled St Patrick’s Wellington team. This would take nothing away from the great efforts of 2015, with the boys bringing mana back to Naenae College rugby, instilling a great culture of hard work, belief and integrity for the future of the Naenae Colege rugby programme.

Five players from this team were selected to train during the Wellington age grade Williment Week involving high level coaching. These players were: Mafa Metuli Tuluauau, Fred Tema, George Tofa, Vincent Hunt and Ben Cusin. Had there been an Under 15 Wellington squad it would have been likely for some of these boys to be selected for this team.

The season rounded off with the annual Hurricanes Under 15 Rugby Tournament. After being drawn in what College Sport Wellington labelled the ‘Pool of Death’, the boys picked up one win against Bishop Viard, and two loses against Westlake Boys High School of North Shore and eventual tournament runners up Manukura of Manawatu. The boys did it tough throughout the tournament losing key players and having to play with few reserves. This did not phase the boys and they played in true Te Whanau Tahi spirit, giving their all in every game. Two close losses following pool play meant the boys finished in 12th place of 16 teams, which was fair considering the injuries and lack of substitutions. All in all this was a great week and a fantastic end to an excellent season. These boys are a team to watch throughout their senior years here at Naenae College.

A big thank you to Head of Sport, Yvonne Manuel, for her support throughout the season, ex-student and Assistant Coach, Taamilo Vaa, and Team Manager, Hayden Gibbons.

Hamish Muirhead