Potential for the game to grow after U85kg college tournament success
Calls for college under-85kg grades to become regular competitions across Aotearoa are getting stronger, following the success of a national college under-85kg tournament recently hosted by Wellington Rugby.
The tournament – which was played across three days at the New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport (NZCIS) – featured 300 schoolboys and 10 teams from across the North Island.
Kings College (Auckland) won the tournament after defeating St Pats Silverstream 18-14 in the final.
Despite the tournament being deemed a great success, it also exposed the need for regular competitions at schoolboy level.
While Auckland currently has an under-85kg college competition with three divisions, Wellington and many other provinces don’t have a single competition running. Wellington schools that took part in the tournament were largely made up of second and third XV, under-65kg, and under-15 players.
Wellington Rugby Head of Game Development Chris Stirling, said the success of this tournament shows how much the grade is needed at college level, and that the lighter weight schoolboys are just as important to retaining kids in the game.
“It’s no doubt massively needed here. It’s an area of great potential growth for the male game. I think an under-85kg grade in Wellington college rugby has massive potential if we can get it up and running. For NZ, it’s about getting those lighter weight players back in the game and keeping them in the game and providing them with a pathway for those who aspire to play at a really high level.”
Stirling said the objective and vision looking forward was to grow the tournament to accompany 16-20 teams, but also grow numbers in this critical age and weight bracket; players who are non-first XV.
“The tournament was quality. The weather did us proud, Wellington turned on its best and the attending teams all had a quality rugby experience. The Auckland teams provided a high quality of competition which you would expect as the players have been in a team playing all year. Again, if we can have something here in Wellington running, it will only be good for the game. It’s simply a matter of growing and keeping people in that weight category in the game.”