Level of excitement almost off the chart

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Weston School’s Rippa rugby team came up against experienced opposition in its final hit-out before next week’s Rippa Rugby Championship in Wellington.

On Tuesday, the team of year 5 and 6 pupils played parents and teachers, including former North Otago representatives Mike Mavor and Barry Fox.

The result depended on who you asked – one of the parents claimed a 6-5 victory, while according to one of the pupils, they won “a million to nothing”.

Weston School gained a spot in next week’s 26-team national tournament in Wellington after winning the North Otago competition in March.

Since then, the team has been training twice a week.

In previous years, the North Otago winner would have to play off against teams from South Canterbury and Mid Canterbury for a spot in the national championships, but this year’s competition was expanded, because of the Rugby World Cup.

The New Zealand Rugby Union is funding the trip for all attending schools.

Each team had been given a country to represent and Weston School will be wearing the Spanish kit.

One of the team members, Cash Paterson, was even learning some Spanish phrases.

Kaylah Kira said the whole team was “really excited”.

“On a scale of one to 10, it would be a 10.”

The team had been training hard, including practicing a “helicopter move” – spinning around in the tackle so the opposition could not grab the tag, she said.

Kayla and her team-mates had expressed concern before the game that some of the parents “might get injured and not be able to get up”, but those fears were later allayed as the parents and teachers walked off the field mostly unscathed.

The team’s coach, Callum Kingan, said excitement for the tournament was reaching “fever pitch”.

“It is great, isn’t it? They are all sporty kids and have a chance to have a paid trip from the rugby union – it’s outstanding.

“We are going to go up there and give it everything.”