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Photo by Mark Ealey

1st XV vs Rangiora HS preview

Mark Ealey —

2:45pm on St. Bede's College No. 1

Final Round of the Miles Toyota 1st XV Championship 2022

St Bede’s College 1st XV recent history v Rangiora:

• 2021: Won by 66 v 3

• 2020: Won by 13 v 7

• 2019: Won by 33 v 14

• 2018: Lost by 20 v 17


Rangiora High School:

• Founded 1884

• Motto: Lux cum Amore; (Enlightenment with Friendship)

• Roll: 1650+ (Co-ed)

• Miles Toyota Championship: Semi-Finalist: 2018, 2020


St Bede’s College:

• Founded 1911

• Motto: Fide et Opere; (By Faith and By Works)

• Roll: 800+

• Miles Toyota Championship: Semi-finalist:2003, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, Runner-up: 2007, 2012, Champions: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015


Points of Interest:

• Rangiora High School is a state co-educational secondary school. Established in 1881 by an act of parliament and opened in 1884. It is the fifth-biggest school in the South Island. It is set on extensive grounds, which cover nearly 50 hectares, including a school farm and an equestrian academy.

• The school has a giant redwood tree within the grounds of the school. It was planted in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It is a giant sequoia and these specimens are the most massive individual trees in the world. They grow to an average height of 50–85 m with trunk diameters ranging from 6–8 m. These are listed as an endangered species by the IUCN, with fewer than 80,000 trees remaining worldwide. Since its last assessment as an endangered species in 2011, it was estimated that another 13–19% of the population (or 10–13,000 mature trees) have been destroyed. Despite their large size and adaptations to fire, giant sequoias have become severely threatened by a combination of fuel load from fire suppression, which fuels extremely destructive fires that are also exacerbated by drought and climate change. These conditions have led to the death of many forests in large fires in recent decades around the world.• In terms of rugby, Rangiora High School over the last decade and a half had a fantastic progression, from only having a midweek 1st XV prior to 2006 to gaining entry into the Crusaders 1st XV schools rugby competition in 2011. Coach Jim Gilbert combined with Marty Ashby in 2006/07. The pair saw the potential for RHS to compete at the top level and set about making a plan that would see the school’s 1st XV first win the Country Combined Under 18 competition in 2009 and then progress to Crusaders schools status in 2011. With a view to player succession and an improvement of skill and culture, Gilbert also established a Junior Rugby Development Programme at Rangiora High School in 2012. The development programme concept was well received by all involved. Players grew in numbers and went through the ranks to gain 1stXV status. As the rugby culture grew, and interest in Rangiora High School rugby increased, the Rangiora High School Rugby Club was established. The Club provided a robust structure for the administration of rugby at all levels within the school. The Club developed a Cook Islands Scholarship programme, known as the Cook Islands Student Development Programme through Rugby, it saw RHS and the Rugby Club giving academic and sporting opportunities to up to three Cook Island students each year.

• RHS continued to progress and their 1stXV results saw them become a very strong team in the competition. They qualified for the Championship semifinals in 2018 for the first time. That season's success was built on the back of only losing four regular season matches (interestingly it was a season they defeated all of the schools that make up the 2022 championship semifinals - St Bede's, Nelson College, St Thomas and Christchurch Boys' High School). In the match against CBHS they won the Trustbank Cup for the first time. CBHS then turned the tables on them, defeating them in the championship semifinal, CBHS went on to become champions in 2018. Whilst Rangiora instead became the South Island Co-ed Champions. As Crusaders Co-Ed champions they defeated Gore High School to qualify for the National Top 4 Co-ed championship. In their first match at the Nationals, they met Fielding High School in the semi-finals. Fielding HS were one of the heavyweight Co-ed 1st XV schools - perennial finalists and previous winners of the top 4 competition. Rangiora came from behind to win 15-12. In the final they met St Peter's Cambridge, unfortunately going down 33-26 to become National Co-Ed runners up. In 2020 they again became semifinalists in the Crusaders championship, dropping just four regular season matches.. They again met CBHS in the semifinals, but unfortunately were unable to progress through to the final and into a return match with the St Andrews team they had defeated during the round robin. St Andrew's became champions instead with their defeat of CBHS a week later.

• In the last two seasons Rangiora has not been able to match the high performance exploits of that prior era. In 2021 they finished 10th in the league round robin. The won their Bowl (9-12) semifinal, but due to covid were unable to play for the Bowl against Shirley BHS (a side they had defeated 34-17 earlier in the season). In recent weeks the school has celebrated the selection of Fletcher Newell as the latest All Black from the area since Todd Blackadder. The recently turned 22-year-old played for the RHS 1st XV as a 15yr old. Their other alumni and going back a long way include John Ashworth, Brian Ford, Graeme Higginson, Ian MacRae and Barry Thompson.

• In 2022 RHS have not won a match in the competition yet and so will be desperate to do so, given otherwise it will be their final match of the season. St Bede's following their defeat to Nelson last week can finish no better than third, but will finish fourth if CBHS can manage a strong victory in Nelson against Waimea Combined Schools. The championship semifinals will see 1 v 4 and 2 v 3. If the form book holds true that would likely see St Bede's playing St Thomas away in the semifinals the following week. Although Waimea (playing CBHS), Shirley (playing St Thomas), and Roncalli (playing Nelson) with wins could change that scenario...