Have fun and enjoy yourselves.
That has been the key message from everyone involved in Waitaki Boys’ High School and St Kevin’s College rugby, before the annual first XV match this afternoon at Whitestone Contracting Stadium.
Last year, St Kevin’s produced a record 56-15 win, but it appears the two sides could be more evenly matched for the 87th meeting.
St Kevin’s dropped from the premiership to the championship grade in the Otago premier schools competition recently. Waitaki Boys’ also competes in the championship grade.
Both teams are sitting at the top of the table, having won the first two games of the round, and will look to carry that momentum through today.
St Kevin’s captain Anthony Docherty (17), who will play in his third and final interschool match today, said it was important to enjoy the game.
“It’s just to go out there and play positive, smart footy – that’s our brand of footy,” Anthony said.
He acknowledged it was the biggest game of the year for both teams, and one all players waited to be a part of.
Waitaki Boys’ captain Adrian Tevao (17) said his team learned plenty from last year’s tough loss and, with a similar team, it would be coming back stronger this year.
“It’s just playing our game and the way we normally play,” Adrian said.
Both coaches agreed with their captains.
St Kevin’s coach Justin Fowler encouraged them to throw the ball around, express themselves and have fun.
“Both teams try to play some attractive rugby so hopefully that will happen again this year,” Fowler said.
Waitaki Boys’ coach Mark Wilson said this could be the biggest stage some of the boys ever played on, and it was important they “lap it up”.
The match was a great way to bring the schools and the community together.
St Kevin’s principal Paul Olsen and Waitaki Boys’ rector Darryl Paterson were looking forward to the game.
“We are very much looking forward to the match as it is not only a great way to finish the term but is also an opportunity for past pupils to catch up,” Olsen said.
While Paterson said it was a wonderful occasion, the behaviour of past pupils last year meant he was unable to relax.
Having to employ match-day security, lock the school gates and update security systems was a “very sad indictment”.
“Shouldn’t we be celebrating the achievements of our current students and them adding to a wonderfully traditional match and at the same time each school celebrating their unique and special identity?” he said.
The match kicks off at 1.30pm.