There are mixed views on the new Otago-wide secondary school rugby competition created to replace the now-defunct Highlanders Competition.
It features nine first XVs from the wider Otago area, with Waitaki Boys’ High School and St Kevin’s College from Oamaru, Dunstan High School, from Alexandra, Mount Aspiring College, from Wanaka, Balclutha’s South Otago High School, Dunedin School’s, Kavanagh College, John McGlashan College, King’s High School, Taieri College, and the Otago Boys’ High School second XV.
Waitaki Boys’ High first XV coach Ryan Bambry is full of praise for the new competition.
“I feel it will be much more competitive than the Highlander’s competition has been over the last two years, because some of the weaker teams were from Southland and they’ve now dropped out.”
While the competition is down to 10 teams, Bambry expects competition to be tough.
“I feel there will be no easy games in the competition this year and teams will have to work really hard to get the results they’re after.”
With the competition now solely Otago-based, Bambry said travel plays lesser of a part now.
“We won’t have to travel as much now we don’t have to travel to Invercargill, it saves us three trips down there we were looking at being forced to do if the Highlanders competition continued.”
Southland Boys’ High School and Otago Boys’ High first XV’s are not in the competition, but WBHS will still get to play them.
“We get to play them in our annual inter-schools so it’s not too much of a concern not facing them in this competition.”
Bambry said the boys are looking forward to getting on the park and have a pre-season tour of Australia, which will include a match against Christ’s College in Christchurch before they leave.
St Kevin’s College first XV coach Justin Fowler said they’d have preferred the Highlanders competition to remain.
“We enjoyed facing the different teams and didn’t mind travelling so would’ve preferred the Highlander’s competition to stay,” he said.
He expects the games to be tough and said the team will be well prepared come kick-off on April 25.
“We have a quad tournament here next weekend featuring Roncalli, Kavanagh and St Peter’s and then a pre-season tournament here in the holidays.”
It’s looking likely that the import rule will remain the same, with the competition likely to feature nine round robin games before it splits up into a top six bottom four scenario with the bottom four sides to join the first XVs who missed out on the grade and second XVs from the likes of John McGlashan College, King’s High School and others.
By Brayden Lindsay
PHOTO: BRAYDEN LINDSAY – Waitaki Boys’ High School’s Piliu Tavake in action against King’s High School in 2014 who they will face again this year in the Otago-wide secondary schools competition.