Marist Under-14 second five Duncan Drysdale darts through the Nelson Under-14 defence on Saturday. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

More rugby clubs enter school competitions

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The Tasman Rugby Union believes there is still a place for school teams in its age grade rugby competitions, despite more representation from clubs this year.

Stoke, Marist, Nelson and Waimea Old Boys all have teams entered in age grade rugby competitions, where they compete with other schools from Nelson and Marlborough.

All of the Garin College teams play under the Marist banner and Nayland College do the same with Stoke, while Nelson has one team entered in the Under-14 grade and Waimea Old Boys (who call themselves Waimea College Old Boys) play in the Under-18 competition.

“It’s something that the schools have identified. Nayland has traditionally had a relationship with Stoke but this year they decided to go under the club umbrella which opens it up for out-of-schoolers to play, and that’s the same with Marist,” says Tasman Rugby Union’s community rugby manager Kahu Marfell. “The Under-18 teams make more sense because there a lot of school leavers at 16 and 17 and the idea of going back to a school team might deter them from playing.”

The Waimea College Old Boys team was a good example of that says Kahu, while the Nelson Under-14 team play in a grade that already has three teams from Nelson College and stemmed from discussions with parents.

He says the idea of restricting the competitions – other than Press Cup where Nelson College and Waimea College enter their first XVs –  to just clubs was a “discussion point” that needed to happen between clubs and schools. “I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong answer. As long as whoever is running the rugby is administering it well, providing coaching, and giving opportunities for players then I don’t think it matters if it’s a club or a school. We’re about fostering rugby so whatever avenue gets more players playing rugby then we’ll go for it.”