Quin Strange with the rest of the Nelson College 1st XV players as they face a haka performed by their class mates at the Quad Tournament on Monday. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Nelson College’s tilt at history

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As the first school to ever play a competitive game of rugby in New Zealand, Nelson College has a long tradition in the 15-a-side sport. And when you mention tradition, rugby and Nelson College in the same sentence, it’s hard not to think of the Quadrangular Tournament – the longest running secondary school rugby tournament in the world.

The competition, now in its 87th year, sees Nelson College face traditional rivals Christ’s College, Wanganui Collegiate and Wellington College in a bid to claim the coveted piece of silverware.

The four year hosting cycle has landed on Nelson College for the 2013 edition of the tournament, meaning the four colleges will grace the hallowed turf of the Nelson College front field this week.

The tournament format is a straight semi-final with the two winners contesting a final. Nelson beat Wanganui Collegiate 37-10 in yesterday’s game, meaning it will now face Wellington College in tomorrow’s final, with a crowd of more than 3000 expected.

Nelson drew the final against Wellington College 31-31 last year. With IRB rules restricting extra time in Under-19 competitions, both teams got their name on the trophy – the 24th time Nelson’s name was inscribed.

Acknowledging the competition’s importance, Nelson College first XV coach Bill Liddell was backing his side to get up for the occasion.

“There is a lot of historical importance and we haven’t won it outright for ten or eleven years,” he says.

“I know the old boys place a lot of emphasis on it because it crosses the pathway of every rugby follower in the college that is still alive.”

With reunions for four first XVs from the 1960s, full school hakas, an old boys dinner and various other activities, Nelson College headmaster Gary O’Shea says Quad Tournament is simply the biggest event on the school’s calendar.

“Without much doubt this is the biggest event in the four year period. We’ve got three of the other oldest schools in the country here,” he says. “Having the whole school watching gives us an advantage and our boys will be up for it.”

All of Nelson College’s past All Blacks, including its most recent, Wyatt Crockett, have taken part but not all of them have been able to play at home, which is something Gary hoped his players would not only cherish but flourish in.

The final will kick off at 12.30pm.