Nelson College is synonymous with New Zealand rugby tradition.
The school was the first to play a competitive game in New Zealand 150 years ago and next week will write another chapter in its storied history as it hosts the 94th edition of the Quadrangular Tournament – the world’s oldest college rugby competition.
It’s been fifty-one years since Chris Harvey led his 1st XV down the concrete steps of Nelson College.
Players had no numbers on their backs, tries were worth three points, there were no substitutions and the young men had never stepped foot in a weights room.
However, one thing certainly hasn’t changed, the passion for the jersey.
The pain of losing the quad final at home in 1969 still lingers for Chris.
“It still hurts, we got robbed by the ref and lost 19-17.”
He recalls the ground packed to the rafters with spectators.
“You couldn’t move, there would’ve been thousands. It was a huge event.”
The ‘Quad’ pits Whanganui Collegiate, Christ’s, Wellington and Nelson Colleges in a straight semi-final/final format.
The four-year hosting cycle has landed on Nelson College for the 2020 edition of the tournament, meaning the four colleges will grace the Nelson College front field next week.
“It’s a tournament that everyone wants to play in, it is equally or more important than the local competition, thousands of boys come through here, but the number that get to play in Quad at home is not very high,” says Chris.
Current Nelson captain Daniel Dixon has sat out the last few weeks with injury but is determined to make the field for the prestigious tournament.
Daniel has been in the First XV since 2018 and was named skipper this season.
“We want to finish on a high, it would be an awesome way to bow out.”
The industrious loose forward says his side is on a high following its stunning victory over St Andrews in the final round of the UC Championship.
“We gained a lot of confidence from that. Everyone is really fizzing to get into it, especially the year 13s, they want to be farewelled on a good note.”
Chris says while the week features a number of events with old boys, the focus is what happens on the field.
“It’s all about the footy.”
He says the tournament is steeped in tradition.
“1st XV boys have always been very conscious of players that have come before them, we certainly were.”
Daniel says it will be an honour to lead the side, as it has been all season.
“I will try to soak up every minute, it will go really fast and hopefully we get as many people along as we can to watch.”
Number of won or shared titles:
94th Annual Quadrangular Tournament Tuesday September 29 -Thursday October 1
12.00pm Christ’s College v Whanganui Collegiate School
1.45pm Nelson College v Wellington College
11am School tour, re-creation of team photos.
5pm Joint Colleges Function
11.00am Minor Final
12.30pm Quad Final