The Waitaki Boys’ High School 1st XV are making history today, as they lock horns with Timaru Boys’ at Milner Park for the 130th time in the oldest continuous 1st XV inter-school in New Zealand and the British Commonwealth.
Not even two world wars and a flu epidemic could stop this fixture from being played and over the years the inter-school has grown to include most sports played by both schools.
The first encounter between these two old rivals was played a year after Waitaki Boys’ was founded in 1884 with WBHS coming out as 3-1 winners.
Waitaki went on to dominate the fixture, winning 17 of the 18 fixtures played between 1898 and 1912 , keeping Timaru scoreless from 1903 to 1912 and giving their opponents a 70-0 mauling in 1908.
Timaru stopped the rot in 1913 with 12-8 victory in 1913 followed by four more wins until Waitaki broke the deadlock with a tightly contested 6-5 clash in 1918.
Since then the two sides have shared the spoils in what have been fairly even fixtures, excluding Timaru’s record 66-3 victory 66-3 in 2003.
The visitors will head into the 2013 fixture with recent history on their side, remaining unbeaten since 2009.
WBHS 1st XV manager Peter Greenslade said they were focused for the big game, after a tough season for the young side.
“We’ve put together probably the strongest team we could pick… They are up to the challenge,” he said.
The challenge and prestige of beating the neighbouring town’s boys’ school was massive, and the boys were feeling very proud to be a part of the occasion, Greenslade said.
“They are a part of history and they might create history,” he said.
“That will give them a bit of a boost.”
WBHS rector Paul Jackson said when talking to the Old Boys’ it was more than evident that the spirit of a school was embraced in the challenge of overcoming the great foe.
“Everyone remembers the great victories and the near loses, the morning assembly, travelling to and fro, the singing of the school song and the capping of the 1st XV,” he said.
“This is the game that makes local boys heroes and the town proud. The spirit of Waitaki goes with all who compete and that spirit is encapsulated in Oamaru and North Otago.”
The 260 Timaru Boys’ students will face off with WBHS students in 17 fixtures. Each fixture is worth one point and the school that has the most points wins the interschool.
“This means that on the face of things, debating is worth as much as winning the 1st XV rugby match,” Jackson said.
“This has enriched the interschool to include more players and heighten the camaraderie and school spirit.”
WBHS students have showed “massive” commitment to the challenge.
Timaru has won four out of the last five interschool fixtures which has made the challenge ever larger and just like tackling the summit of a mountain, those who try and try again would eventually succeed, Jackson said.
“With the spirit of Waitaki and the commitment to never, never, never give in, Waitaki will grow and will succeed against the larger schools,” he said.
In schools, and especially boys’ schools, the challenges of sport and competition were essential aspects of developing the all-round man, Jackson said.
“In a society challenged by electronic games, computers and TV we must embrace the influence that a competitive sporting occasion like the Timaru interschool has on our sons,” he said.
“It is far better for young men to be scrummaging, kicking, bouncing and tackling their way through a game of competitive sport rather than sitting on a sofa playing electronic games.
“This is the spirit of competitive sport that schools like Waitaki and Timaru are famous for. Young men for generations to come will learn what it is to win and lose. Boys need to see the best and the worst in their team mates and to experience the honour of representing their school in preparedness for employment.”
The Old Boys’, local businesses and townspeople have generously sponsored a special rugby shirt that will be worn by the 1st XV against Timaru in the interschool match. The shirt has both school crests on the front and the Hall of Memories on the back. The boys who are selected to play will be allowed to keep the shirt after the game as a lasting memento.
There will also be a very special dinner and auction held in the Hall of Memories, which will be catered for by Old Boy Bevan Smith, of Riverstone Kitchen. Held after the game to acknowledge the day and the 130th year of boarding at Waitaki Boys’ High School, it will be the first school dinner held in the Hall of Memories since 1936.
WBHS vs Timaru Boys’ Interschool programme
Badminton (SNR) – 11am, Oamaru Badminton Club
Basketball 1st V – 11am, WBHS Gym
Basketball (JNR) – 12.30pm, WBHS Gym
Chess – 11am, WBHS Library
Debating (SNR) – 11am, WBHS Hall of Memories
Debating (JNR) – 12pm, WBHS Hall of Memories
Football (JNR) – 11am, WBHS Milner Field
Football 1st XI – 12.30pm, WBHS Milner Field
Golf – 9am, North Otago Golf Course
Hockey (JNR XI) – 11am, North Otago Hockey Turf
Hockey 1st XI – 12.30pm, North Otago Hockey Turf
Rugby 1st XV – 12.45pm, WBHS Milner 1
Rugby U16 – 11am, WBHS Don Field
Rugby U15 – 11am, WBHS Milner 2
Rugby 14.5 – 11am, WBHS Don Field
Trap Shooting – 10am, WBHS Range
By Rebecca Ryan and James Ford