Above: St Pat’s Town beat St Pat’s Silverstream to win the U15 final last year. Above top: The St Pat’s Silverstream Second XV retained the Premier 2 Murray Jensen Cup in 2018. PHOTOS: Andy McArthur.
- By Scott MacLean and Steven White
The College Rugby season gets underway this weekend. At the top end there’s the annual Tranzit Festival, while 16 other First XV’s start their journey with hopes of making the Premiership for 2019.
Tranzit Coachlines 1st XV Festival
Last year’s Premiership top four return to the top grade by right, and instead of the qualifying process will spend the next three weeks involved in the Tranzit Coachlines-sponsored 1st XV Festival.
The opening weekend of those matches are again in Masterton, though this year the matches are at Rathkeale College rather than at Memorial Park as they have been for the past two years.
The Wellington schools will be after a better showing against their Super 8 competition counterparts than last year when they won just four of the twelve matches which included St Pats Town’s win over Rathkeale (filling in for Hastings Boys) and Wellington College going winless, though early preseason results have been a mixed bag so far.
Defending Wellington champions St Pat’s Silverstream start with a match against Hastings Boys, Town have to deal with national runners-up Napier Boys, Scots face Palmerston North Boys, with Wellington College taking on Gisborne Boys. Home school Rathkeale are also involved with a match against Napier’s 2nd XV.
The next two weeks sees the series venture north to Gisborne, with the final leg at Porirua Park on the 18th.
4 May – Rathkeale College, Masterton: 11.00 am: Wellington College v Gisborne, Scots v Palmerston North; 12.30pm: St Pats Town v Napier; 1.00pm: St Pats Silverstream v Hastings.
11 May – Gisborne BHS: 11.00am: Scots v Hastings, St Pats Town v Palmerston North; 12.30pm: St Pats Silverstream v Gisborne, Wellington College v Napier.
18 May – Porirua Park 11.30am: Scots v Gisborne, St Pats Silverstream v Napier; 1.00pm: Wellington College v Palmerston North, St Pats Town v Hastings.
Premiership Qualification Series
While the Tranzit series is taking place, 16 teams will vie for the right to the six remaining spots in the Premiership.
The format remains unchanged from the past two years, and starts with two brackets. In the Top-8 where sides can qualify directly by winning their first two matches, is filled out by last year’s Premiership sides – Wairarapa, St Bernard’s, Rongotai, Kapiti, Hutt International, and Porirua, plus Premier 2 runners-up Aotea and losing semi-finalists Tawa. The Bottom 8 bracket comprises the next 8 1st XV’s based on finishing order last year, all of who played in Premier 2 and 3, and while it’s a tougher road to the Premiership for them, it’s not impossible.
Underneath this are a further set of pools to fill out the rest of the grades. The Silverstream (Premier 2 winners the last two years), St Pats Town, Wellington College, and Rongotai 2nd XV’s are in their own pool to determine the final make up of Premier 2 or placement into Premier 3, while the remaining teams will determine where they are placed for the season ahead.
Week 1 schedule (home teams first, all matches kick-off at 2.30pm unless stated):
Top 8 bracket:
Rongotai vs Porirua, Kapiti v HIBS, St Bernard’s v Aotea, Wairarapa v Tawa (11.30am, being played at Rathkeale College within the Tranzit matches)
Bottom 8 bracket:
Taita v Naenae (10.30am, being played at Fraser Park), Paraparaumu v Wainuiomata (12pm), Upper Hutt v Onslow, Hutt Valley HS v Mana
Of the other Boys grades the Under 15 and Under 65kg also have grading matches this weekend, with the Under 80kg and Under 55kg grades playing preseason matches until the start proper. Details of the revamped Girls rugby season will be out in coming weeks.
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