The Wellington College and St Pat’s Silverstream teams after last year’s U15 final. Wellington College retained their title with a 45-32 win. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.
- By Scott MacLean
Has the slow demise of school rugby been overstated? Numbers might still be well down on where they were a decade ago, but the positive signs are there with an increase in teams this year over recent seasons for the season start this weekend.
At the Premier end (open weight and age) 32 sides are entered for 2021. At the sharp end last year’s top four in the Premiership – Scots, Silverstream, Town, and Rongotai – return to it by right, and on Saturday Scots host Auckland’s Kings College while the other three meet nearby at Rongotai College for a “Game of Three Halves”.
Next week all four are at Porirua Park for matches against the four Hurricanes-region Super 8 schools, with those series of matches cut back to just one weekend this year.
Behind them, 16 further First XV’s are looking to join them in the 10-team Premiership, and those six teams will be found over the next three weekends. The first round of these matches is split Top 8/Bottom 8 with their results on Saturday determining who and where they’ll play the following week.
In those Top 8 matches where a win this weekend carries the opportunity for direct entry the following week, Wellington College hosts Hutt International, St Bernard’s are at home against last year’s Premier 2 winners Upper Hutt, Mana travel to Masterton to face Wairarapa College, and Aotea are at home against near-neighbours Tawa.
In the second set of matches northern pair Kapiti and Paraparaumu are both at home against valley duo Naenae and Taita respectively, Porirua hosts Hutt Valley HS, and Bishop Viard make the trek to take on Wainuiomata.
Upper Hutt College – Premier 2 champions 2020. PHOTO: Peter McDonald.
Where there are some concerns about the overall state of the game is the next tier down – with a paucity of second XV’s, with many of the schools above unable to field one.
The four traditional Boys schools are among those that are, though Rongotai are a late addition, joined in that regard by Scots, Hutt International, St Bernard’s, Mana, and Paraparaumu (plus Wairarapa who compete over their side of the Remutaka’s). Only Wellington College and Silverstream are running a third XV.
But the cause for optimism comes in the age and weight grades.
There’s a bumper entry of 26 Under 15 teams in 2021 along with an increase at the Under 65kg level while numbers are down a couple in the flyweights of the Under 55kg grade. The numbers at the Under 15 are particularly impressive with almost every school across the region entered, led by Silverstream who have four teams but also including schools like Tawa who haven’t been there in recent seasons. The Under 65s are headed by Wellington College, with three of the fourteen teams.
These grades will play a mix of preseason and grading in the next couple of weeks before settling into their formats for the season. The Under 15s will form three divisions, the 65s two, and the 55’s a single division.
You can find the full schedule of College matches at https://collegesport.org.nz/draws-results/
Or below, thanks to the Wellington Rugby Referees page: http://www.wrra.org.nz/appts/
All draws subject to change between now and then.
|12:30||WSS College Traditional||Scots College / 1||Scots 1st XV||Kings College 1st XV|
|13:00||WSS Pre Season||Rongotai College / 1||Rongotai 1st XV||St Pat’s Wgtn/St Pat’s Silverstream 1st XV|
|14:30||WSS Premier Grading||Aotea College / 1||Aotea 1st XV||Tawa College 1st XV|
|11:30||WSS Premier Grading||Evans Bay / 1||St Pat’s Wgtn 2nd XV||Scots 2nd XV|
|14:30||WSS Premier Grading||Kapiti College / 1||Kapiti 1st XV||Naenae 1st XV|
|13:00||WSS Premier Grading||Mana College / 1||Mana 2nd XV||St Bernards 2nd XV|
|14:30||WSS Premier Grading||Paraparaumu College / 1||Paraparaumu 1st XV||Taita 1st XV|
|13:00||WSS Premier Grading||Paraparaumu College / 1||Paraparaumu 2nd XV||Newlands 1st XV|
|14:30||WSS Premier Grading||Porirua College / 1||Porirua 1st XV||HVHS 1st XV|
|14:30||WSS Premier Grading||St Bernard’s College / 1||St Bernard’s 1st XV||Upper Hutt College 1st XV|
|11:00||WSS Premier Grading||St Pats Silverstream / 1||Silverstream 2nd XV||Well College 2nd XV|
|11:30||WSS Premier Grading||St Pats Silverstream / 2||Silverstream 3rd XV||Well College 3rd XV|
|14:30||WSS Premier Grading||Wainuiomata High School / 1||Wainuiomata High 1st XV||Bishop Viard 1st XV|
|13:00||WSS Premier Grading||Wairarapa College / 1||Wairarapa College 1st XV||Mana 1st XV|
|13:00||WSS Premier Grading||Wellington College (NZ) / 1||Well College 1st XV||Hutt Int Boys 1st XV|
|11:30||WSS Under 15||Aotea College / 1||Aotea Under 15||Mana Under 15|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||Bishop Viard College / 1||Bishop Viard Under 15||Tawa College Under 15|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||Hutt International Boys School / 1||Hutt Int Boys Under 15||Well College Under 15 Gold|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||Hutt Valley High School / 1||HVHS Under 15||Silverstream Under 15 Colts|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||Porirua College / 1||Porirua Under 15||Upper Hutt College Under 15|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||Rongotai College / 2||Rongotai Under 15||Taita Under 15|
|11:30||WSS Under 15||Rongotai College / 2||Rongotai Under 15 2||Naenae Under 15|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||Scots College / 1||Scots Under 15||St Bernards Under 15|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||St Bernard’s College / 1||St Bernards Under 15 2||Otaki Under 15|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||St Pats Silverstream / 2||Silverstream Under 15 1||St Pat’s Wgtn Under 15|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||St Pats Silverstream / 4||Silverstream Under 15 Blue||Newlands Under 15|
|11:30||WSS Under 15||St Pats Silverstream / 4||Silverstream Under 15 White||Well College Under 15 Black|
|10:00||WSS Under 15||Wainuiomata High School / 1||Wainuiomata High Under 15||St Pat’s Wgtn Under 15 2|
|10:00||WSS Under 55||Hutt International Boys School / 2||Hutt Int Boys Under 55||Well College Under 55 Black|
|10:00||WSS Under 55||Paraparaumu College / 2||Paraparaumu Under 55||Well College Under 55 Gold|
|10:00||WSS Under 55||Rongotai College / 3||Rongotai Under 55||Silverstream Blue Under 55|
|10:00||WSS Under 65||Aotea College / 2||Aotea Under 65||Paraparaumu Under 65|
|11:30||WSS Under 65||Hutt International Boys School / 1||Hutt Int Boys Under 65||Well College Under 65 Gold|
|11:30||WSS Under 65||Hutt Valley High School / 1||HVHS Under 65||Well College Under 65 Black|
|10:00||WSS Under 65||Mana College / 2||Mana Under 65||Well College Under 65 Red|
|10:00||WSS Under 65||Onslow College / 1||Onslow Under 65||Rongotai Under 65|
|10:00||WSS Under 65||St Pats Silverstream / 5||Silverstream Under 65 1||St Pat’s Wgtn Under 65 1|
|10:00||WSS Under 65||Upper Hutt College / 1||Upper Hutt College Under 65||Kapiti Under 65|
|10:00||WSS Under 80||Kilbirnie Park / 3||Well College Black Under 80||St Pat’s Wgtn Blue Under 80|
|11:30||WSS Under 80||St Pats Silverstream / 3||Silverstream Under 80 Blue||Kapiti Under 80|