Nelson College kicked off its 2018 rugby campaign on Saturday with a big win thanks in part to a stunning performance from its skipper – a 16 year-old German who only took up the game a few years ago.
The current Moascar Cup holders ran in seven tries, including two hat-tricks, to see off a strong challenge from St Andrews College from Christchurch and claim an impressive 25-point victory in the opening round of the UC Championship at Nelson College.
With the scores locked up 12-12 at half time, Nelson ran riot in the second, running in five unanswered tries.
Nelson skipper Anton Segner scored a hat-trick for the hosts from the openside flank, an effort that saw him awarded Sky Sports man of the match for the televised game.
But rugby wasn’t Anton’s first sport of choice. Like most young Germans, Anton was kicking a football as soon as he could walk.
“I played soccer for seven years because it just dominates, it’s like rugby in New Zealand, there is a football pitch on every corner.”
Anton says he was always ‘big and solid’ for his age.
“I had a couple of English friends who said I should try rugby, so I tried out at the local club in Frankfurt two weeks before the German Championships.”
Less than two weeks after picking up the oval ball, Anton was a national champion as Frankfurt went on to win the tournament.
As a big All Blacks fan he was keen to move to New Zealand to further his rugby education, although he says he had to adapt to the significant differences between the Kiwi and German game.
“The rugby in New Zealand is obviously way more physical with more island boys playing and the pace and skill level is much higher.”
He says Saturday’s performance is one he hopes to replicate throughout the season. “I like to lead by example, I want to be a good role model for my teammates and also the students in the school.
“Although I captained in Germany, it’s obviously a huge step up to captain a first XV, I’m very grateful and excited,” Anton says.
Anton says he hopes to make the junior Knights team to play the Chiefs later this year after he made the wider training squad in 2017 but was cut from the final side.
He says his time in New Zealand has been everything he dreamed of but convincing his parents to let him make the move wasn’t easy. “I’m loving it, I’ve made some really good mates through rugby and [my parents] have seen that I can hopefully have a future here.”
Nelson College 37 (Anton Segner 3, Isaiah Malaula 3, Fergus Huges tries, Nico Barton con)
St Andrews College 12 (Tom Rance 2 tries, Ben Ines con).