Red Beach rippa team does North Harbour proud

The North Harbour team was surprised by a visit from the All Blacks. North Harbour’s Charley March evades a defender. Flynn O’Donnell of Red Beach in a match versus Bay of Plenty. Troy Wentworth makes a break in a match against Southland.

Red Beach School’s mixed Rippa team returned from representing North Harbour last week with some amazing stories to share with family and classmates.

The Year 5/6 team got the chance to compete in the Rippa Rugby Championship in Wellington after winning the North Harbour primary school competition last month.

A total of 20 schools (200 players) took part, all representing their provincial union.

Red Beach made it to the bronze final, where the team was defeated by Nawton School, representing Waikato, 25-15. The match was described as “skilful and enjoyable” in NZ Rugby’s after-match press release.

Manawatu (College Street Normal School) went on to win the final against Bay of Plenty (Te Akau ki Papamoa School)

Wellington-based Black Ferns Monica Tagoai, Marcelle Parkes Jackie Patea-Fereti, Joanah Ngan Woo and Women’s Rugby World Cup winners Kendra Cocksedge and Les Elder attended the tournament to support the teams, as well as taking part in Assistant Referee duties throughout the tournament.

But perhaps the biggest highlight for the young teams was a surprise visit from 13 All Blacks at a dinner held the night before the championship, September 10. The team was in the capital for their match against South Africa.

The All Blacks served dinner to the 200 Rippa Rugby players, had photos taken and answered the players’ questions.

NZ Rugby head of participation and development, Steve Lancaster, congratulated all the teams. “Qualifying for the Rippa Champs is a big achievement and all the teams should be really proud of the way they represented their school and province.”

He said the aim of the tournament is to give young people positive experiences through sport as well as develop a lifelong love of rugby.

“For some of the Rippa players this season might be the first time they have played rugby and our hope is that they go home and sign up to play at their local club.”