OBHS decision surprises rugby coaches

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Both Oamaru high school first XV coaches are disappointed with the decision made by Otago Boys’ High School to pull out of the Highlanders First XV competition.

St Kevin’s College coach Justin Fowler says he can understand the decision of Otago Boys’ High School to pull out for next year to play in the Premier Colts grade in Dunedin Club Rugby..

Otago Boys’ have been the marquee team winning the competition for the last four years with really only Southland Boys’ providing any real threat.

Fowler said while he can see why they pulled out, he’s unsure whether it’s the right decision.

“I can see why they pulled out in regard to competition and wanting more of a challenge for their players, but I don’t necessarily see it as the right option.”

The blue and white hooped school was always a very challenging side and that’s something Fowler and the SKC 1st XV side enjoyed.

“They were the bench mark of the competition, playing sides like them is what you want, because it lifts everyone’s skill set and shows how good you have to be to be the best team.”

With OBHS pulling out of the competition three new teams have been added to the competition, with Taieri College, Kavanagh College and one more team to be confirmed.

Like the ITM Cup and it’s current format the Highlanders competition will split into two pools of eight the premiership and championship sections.

Splitting the competition into two pools is a great idea, said Fowler.

“The top eight will play in one pool and the bottom eight in the other pool which is great, because there was very little between the teams placed from about third to 10th last season, but the large schools could still occur with the cross-over games,” he said.

Fowler feels the adding of the new teams will be good for the competition.

“We came second last for the few years of the competition and over the last couple of years have been much better, and I’m sure it will be similar with the new teams they could be some of the strongest sides in the next couple of years, and it will improve rugby at the schools which are added.”

Meanwhile, Waitaki Boys High School 1st XV coach Ryan Bambry said they were one of a few lucky schools.

“We actually still get to play them in our Inter-school fixture which is good because they are a top team and to play against them is important, I can see where they’re coming from, but I think it’s disappointing they’ve made that decision,” Bambry said.

Bambry said if would be disappointing if Kings’ High School pulled out too.

“They want to play in the Colts B grade because they are sick of the one sided games, but that doesn’t seem a hugely beneficial move to me.”

When asked his view on the top 8 and bottom 8 structure Bambry has his qualms.

“They are still going to get the hidings which they are trying to minimise because they are wanting to play the three cross-over games, the pool concept is a good idea, but they need to make sure they get it right to eliminate the drubbings.”

He said it will be a rebuilding phase for the school next year.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

NOT HAPPENING: Otago Boys High School and St Kevin’s College will no longer face each other after the Dunedin School pulled out of the Highlanders Competition for next year to face tougher opponents.