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Solomon a pillar of strength for WC

Stanley Solomon and Wellington College kick-off earlier this season. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.

This weekend marks the semi-finals of the Wellington First XV competition, following a thrilling weekend of matches this past weekend in which four teams were chasing one remaining spot for a seat at the top four table.

Rongotai College grabbed that fourth spot and will play top qualifier St Pat’s Silverstream in one semi-final this coming Saturday, whilst second placed St Pat’s Town will host third placed Wellington College at Evans Bay Park.

Wellington College are coming off their bye, and before that lost their previous match to Hutt International Boys’ School

“That was a tough game in terrible conditions. They played out of their skins and well done to them for beating us,” Wellington College captain and first five Stanley Solomon told the Huddy Hui in conversation this week.

“We just have to adapt to the weather conditions and match whatever St Pat’s Town throws at us this weekend. It’s going to be close, but hopefully we can come away with the win.”

Wellington College beat Town 29-22 back in the opening round in their midweek traditional.

After beating Town, Wellington College beat Scots College 18-17, with Solomon kicking a last gasp winning penalty.

Watch the full interview with the Huddy Hui at the link above.

Scots led 12-0 at halftime that day. What changed in the second half?

“Our coach Neemia [Tialata] asked each of us to lift a notch in the halftime huddle and we just had a change in attitude and we had nothing to lose and played hard to the end.”

What about the winning kick?

“I was the only one on the field that knew it was fulltime, as I asked the referee and he replied time’s up. So I knew I had to take the kick. I looked up and it was drifting left but it came back through. It took me a few days for the feeling to really set in that we had beaten Scots, it was awesome.”

Solomon and the Wellington College team line up prior to their opening round match and traditional against St Pat’s Town. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.

The Wellington College First XV dropped away for a few seasons missing the semis in 2019 and 2020, but the culture has noticeably improved in the past two seasons.

“Our new headmaster, Mr Denham, has been amazing for us and has helped us grow our supporters’ club and in school with promoting our games. He says that when our rugby team is winning the school is winning so it has been good bringing that school spirit out. Not just rugby, all our sports codes.”

Former All Blacks Tialata and Piri Weepu have brought their considerable collective rugby expertise to the side.

“It’s been amazing to have such experienced coaches helping us. As a first five, it has been great having Piri there. His knowledge of the game is outstanding, he is always there if I ever need advice or have a question and it is spot on.”

Earlier this season, Wellington College refurbished its changing rooms.

“We didn’t have changing rooms for three or four weeks and none of us thought anything of it. Then about a week before the Town traditional the coaches came to training and had paint all over them. We started getting the hint something was up, and then they told us on the day, and we entered the new changing rooms then. The boys really love it.”

There are four pillars inside the room, each representing commitment, discipline, integrity and respect.

“If one of the pillars falls down, they all fall down so it means a lot for us.”

The Wellington College changing room.

Solomon started his junior rugby at the Wellington Axemen – the club his parents, Nigel Solomon and former Black Ferns mother Erin Rush played for.

“It was a great environment at the Axemen, and I value my formative years spent there.”

After leading Wellington College to U15 title success and scoring four tries in the 2020 Wellington U15 final, Solomon joined the First XV fulltime last season.

They missed the Premier I final by a point, losing 33-32 to St Patrick’s College, Silverstream on an improbable Emmanuel Solomona penalty.

One match that stood out in 2021 was the traditional win at home against the same opponents and eventual champions, Solomon scoring this match-winning try:


“During that game I hadn’t really done much. I kicked it to one of my mates, Kobe Joe-Vulu. He kicked it back to me and I sort of slipped over, lost my footing. I got up and I was going to kick it but I saw a bit of space and thought I will just have a go. I got through a couple of players and saw the Silverstream centre in front of me. I threw him a dummy and luckily he took it!”

“That was one of the best experiences I have had, to have my whole school behind me chanting and yelling.

“The win in the U15 final was also one of the most important games I have had in my career so far, it was a building block towards my game today. It showed me that I can step up and take control of a game if I really need to.”

Representative selectors took notice and last year, Solomon was the MVP for the Wellington U16 Gold team.

He has recently trialled for the New Zealand U18 Māori team (team not named yet) and will be playing for the Wellington U18 Māori side during the upcoming Hurricanes Youth Council competition.

Solomon rates Dan Carter as his favourite player, but he also admires the play of Damian McKenzie.

Solomon scores a try earlier this season against Gisborne Boys’ High School.

As well as rugby, Solomon has a background in athletics, as a sprinter, and will be Wellington College’s McEvedy Shield co-captain this year when the re-scheduled event takes place at Newtown Park on 14 September. Wellington College are gunning for a record seven wins in a row.

Next year Solomon is looking at university to start a commerce degree but hasn’t decided on where and when yet.

“Hopefully I can continue to play rugby to the best of my ability and to see how far I can take it.”

St Pat’s Town v Wellington College, semi-final. Saturday 2.30pm at Evans Bay Park. 

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