In this week’s Blues News, we’re looking back on Saturday’s KFC Curtain Raiser between Auckland Grammar and Kelston Boys’. And if you’ve always wondered just how much a Blues player can eat, this one’s for you.†
High School rivalry on Eden Park
The KFC Curtain Raisers were on again for another round last Saturday, this time between rivals Auckland Grammar and Kelston Boys’ High. Both teams struggled in the wet and windy conditions, with plenty of penalties given to each side due to ball handling errors.†
Auckland Grammar, the reigning 1A champion team, was up 8-7 going in to half time and rounded the game out with a 13-7 victory. The Grammar team captain Antonio Ripata said his team weren’t able to execute the small skills.
ìWe weren’t getting little things right, like body height and in these conditions that was needed,î said Antonio.†
While his coach, Dave Askew, pointed out the strength of the opposition.
Grammar, Kelston games are always tough, said Dave. We’re pretty disappointed with the way we fronted today, but that’s all part of learning for young guys on a rugby team.
“We’re certainly delighted to leave tonight with a win.”
Kelston head coach, Brent Semmons, described his team as showing a lot of courage and commitment in the face of a tough Grammar side. But the side struggled to capitalise on territorial advantages.
“When we threatened, we didn’t hand on to ball security,” said Brent. “We’re in a bit of a dilemma now because we’ve got to win the rest of our games, which is going to be difficult given the nature of the (1A) competition.”
Kelston team captain, Dominic Mario, said that coming so close to the reigning champions was an accomplishment in itself. ìLosing by a converted try is a huge achievement for the boys because our season just hasn’t been there, said Dominic.
The next Curtain Raiser will be at 5.05pm on Saturday June 6, before the Blues v Crusaders match. We’ll see De La Salle College take on Otahuhu College on the main field.
Young Blues take on fierce Samoan side
The Blues Emerging Players Selection team played Samoa U20 on Monday night at College Rifles. It was an opportunity for a number of young players from the Blues region to gain some international experience against a very tough and well-drilled Samoan side.†
The visitors have been living and training at College Rifles for the past 10 days following the Oceania Tournament on the Gold Coast and ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship in June.
The Samoan team controlled the game early on and lead 12-0 at halftime, with the Blues Emerging Players team unable to capitalise on higher territory and possession stats in the later stages of the half.†
The Samoan side continued their form in the second half and finished winners 34-0 on the back of some aggressive defence and physical breakdown work. The Emerging Blues players now return to their club and provincial programmes having gained valuable experience from pulling on the Blues jersey.
Blues combine for High School talent
On the note of developing rugby, you might have noticed the increasing exposure given to Secondary School rugby in the Blues region with regular games shown on College Rugby 1st XV (Sky Sports). The channel has been giving top division teams live coverage and additional exposure to the Blues Region U18?talent?identification networks.
The Blues and Auckland Rugby have recognised the lower tier 1B and 1C high schools are also turning out high-calibre rugby players. But they’re often missed by selectors because they don’t get the same exposure as their 1A rivals.
60 players have been invited to participate in the Blues Under U18 Combine Day. It’s a unique initiative from the Blues and Auckland Rugby designed to give the players from the 1B and 1C schools the opportunity?to work?with Blues and Auckland Rugby staff and players, participate in a number of physical and rugby specific activities and promote themselves as a player with future potential.?
Blues High Performance Manager Tony Hanks said that the 1B and 1C schools have revealed plenty of high-quality Blues players, like Charlie Faumuina (Papatoetoe High?School), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Mangere College), George Moala (Tamaki College), and Keven Mealamu (Aorere College).
ìThe Combine will provide players who may have received less coverage or opportunities to show the coaches and selectors what they can do,î said Tony. ìIt definitely plays an important role to achieving our High Performance objectives.
We’re looking forward to seeing what talent can be unearthed from the 1B and 1C Auckland high schools – they might just be the future Kevens and Charlies.