- By Scott MacLean
The final act of the 2019 college rugby season takes place this week with the 33rd edition of the Condor Sevens. From a Wellington perspective, seven sides will head north to a new venue, with Kings College having succeeded Sacred Heart as the Tournament hosts.
Four of those sides will contest the weekend’s Open grade tournaments. Scots College again handily won the Wellington qualifier and will look to finally break through at the National tournament where they have been runners-up three times and beaten semi-finalists last year. They return several of that side and will be spearheaded by Roderick Solo who comes off an MVP performance at the Ignite 7’s last week where he earned himself an invite to training camps with the national setup, as well as making the tournament team in each of the past two years. Others returning include Sase Va’a, Ethan Webster-Nonu, and Sage Shaw-Tait, with Blake Rogers continuing the tradition started by Alex Fidow of props fronting for the school in the shortened format.
Their draw has them in Pool D where they’ll face Whanganui Collegiate, Manurewa HS, and St Peter’s Auckland in pool play on Saturday, and while they’ll likely have to work for their results it would be a shock to see them miss out on making the Cup stage.
Joining them are St Pat’s Town, who return for the first time since 2016, and would have learned plenty from the local qualifier. Sanele Aukustino and hulking Herman Seumanufagai shape as go-to players for them, though the latter will need to address discipline issues that saw him yellow-carded three times in the qualifier. His brother Jason, and Ariki Wallace will also be critical to their chances of progressing.
They are drawn in Pool H, which looks wide open and where any of the four sides could progress to the Cup. Their opponents for Saturday are (in order) last year’s quarter-finalists Timaru Boys’, then Howick College, and finally Palmerston North Boys’.
Both sides will join 29 others in attempting to end the reign of Hamilton Boys’ High School, who have won this title the past four years and a fifth would break that record that they currently share with Kelston. Scots are amongst a group of perennial contenders along with Rotorua Boys’, Feilding High, and Hastings Boys’ that seem the likely threats to Hamilton’s crown albeit Rotorua and Hastings are in the same pool, while dark horses loom in the form of the clutch of Auckland schools and New Plymouth’s Francis Douglas.
In the Girls section St Mary’s College are back once again with the former winners out to show they aren’t a spent force at this level. Like Scots, they return a handful of players and three of those, Maddie Feaunati and sisters Katherine and Tema Rayasi will be expected to play a big hand along with youngster Kyrah Whitman. The latter is one of up to five who will be backing up from the U15 tournament, so fatigue will be a factor they’ll have to deal with. They’re drawn in Pool E where they’ll take on Westlake Girls’, tournament debutants Inglewood HS, and finally Manurewa HS on day one.
The second Wellington side in the girl’s section will be on debut. Queen Margaret College caused an upset on Labour Day when they inflicted the first loss there on St Mary’s since 2014 and although they lost the final to the same opponents, they’ve shown that you don’t need a fifteens side to make a splash in the shortened form. They will rely heavily on the trio of Paris Lokotui and sisters Te Araroa and Naomi Sopoaga on the field, with Te Araroa’s knowledge of the tournament when she played for St Mary’s two years ago likely to be invaluable to the inexperienced side. One to watch will be diminutive Year 9 student Lilly Harris-Williams, who has real speed. They are in Pool F where their opposition are Motueka HS, Gisborne’s Lytton HS, and Wesley College.
Howick College are the defending champions, having beaten Hamilton Girls in last year’s final. Both will be contenders again this year – Hamilton have made the last five finals – with Christchurch Girls and Palmerston North’s Manukura also in that mix. Bizarrely however Howick and Hamilton are in the same pool, alongside Southland and New Plymouth GHS’.
Before the main event, the Under 15 tournament is being played out over today and tomorrow. For the first time Wellington schools are contesting the Girls section, with both St Mary’s and Wainuiomata High having entered, and players in both teams would have benefitted from playing in the senior competition in the local qualifier. They’re joined by U15 Boys runners-up St Pat’s Town who are also headed north also to make their debut. That trio was originally four alongside Scots College, but they are a late withdrawal.
St Mary’s face Hastings Girls, Hamilton Girls, and Mt Albert Grammar in pool play while Wainuiomata start against last year’s winners Howick College before taking on Manukura and Rangitoto College. St Pat’s Town are drawn with Mt Albert Grammar, Lindisfarne College, and Wesley College.
Teams (as supplied, listed alphabetically):
Scots College (from): Ietiaia Campbell, Sione Halalilo, Ayden Hammond, Oryaan Kalolo*, Eric Lawson, Tana Maene-Lokeni, Hamish Mansell*, Blake Rogers, Dominic Ropeti, Isaac Sailo*, Sage Shaw-Tait*, Roderick Solo*, Muri Stewart, Sase Va’a*, Kavagn Wanoa*, Ethan Webster-Nonu*.
St Pat’s Town: Sanele Aukustino, Cameron Burgess, Lanakila Opetaia-Tiatia, Herman Seumanufagai, Jason Seumanufagai, Tavita Tafili, Malachai Ti’a, Ariki Wallace, Luke Walmsley, Tom Walsh, Marcus Webster, Khya Wilson
St Mary’s College (from): Maia Broughton#, Tara Campbell, Malia Efaraimo-Leafe, Drenna Falaniko*#, Maddie Feaunati*, Jess Jackson, Kyrah-Jade Kershaw, Nia Leighton*#, Lamai Mataiti#, Charise Perez, Katherine Rayasi*, Tema Rayasi*, Waimarie Weston, Kyrah Whitman#
Queen Margaret College: Natalia Bennett, Sarah Caddis, Lilly Harris-Williams, Paris Lokotui, Melania Lui-Fa’i, Georgie Moore, Riley Newell, Ajah Pritchard-Lolo, Jessie Rongen, Naomi Sopoaga, Te Araroa Sopoaga, Ruby Treadwell, Imogen Turnbull.
St Pats Town U15: Jordan Chapman, Calum Koebergh, Francis Mettrick, Dallas Natoli, Salesa Seumanufagai, Jack Su’a, Daniel Tafili, Elysium Tolova’a-Stanley, James Tuck, Aethan Tuisila, Mark Tyrell, Masila Viliami.
St Mary’s U15 (from): Dylin Asi, Maia Broughton#, Drenna Falaniko#, Zara Feaunati, Dallas Flasza-Taupau, Nia Leighton#, Eden Leota, Lamai Mataiti, Briana Parkes, Laina Sola, Mercy-Lea Tekii-Lilo, Faith Vaoliko-Seu, Charlotte White, Kyrah Whitman#.
Wainuiomata HS U15: Shonte Awatere, Ariana Jacobs, Mihi Jury, Emma-Jamie Gray, Trenell Leota, Tyra Leota, Manaia Maxwell-Puohotaua, Timara Newman, Nataahia Pasene, Hunny Taingahue, Alexis Tauaneai, Celilia Vailima,
* denotes played last year
# denotes playing both U15 and Open
Open Tournament Pools
Pool A: Hamilton BHS (Wai), Whangarei BHS (Nth), Mercury Bay School (TV), Gore HS (Sth)
Pool B: Tauranga BHS (BoP), Marlborough BC (Tas), Aorere College (Akl), Kings College (Akl)
Pool C: Rotorua BHS (BoP), Hastings BHS (HB), De La Salle College (Akl), Rangitoto Coll (NH)
Pool D: Scots College (Wgn), St Peter’s (Akl), Wanganui Collegiate (Wan), Manurewa HS (C-M)
Pool E: Feilding HS (Man), Wesley College (C-M), Christchurch BHS (Can), Sacred Heart (Akl)
Pool F: Francis Douglas (Tar), Mt Albert GS (Akl), Pukekohe HS (C-M), Kerikeri HS (Nth)
Pool G: New Plymouth BHS (Tar), Kelston BHS (Akl), Lindisfarne College (HB), Shirley BHS (Can)
Pool H: Timaru BHS (SC), St Pats Town (Wgn), Palmerston North BHS (Man), Howick College (Akl)
Pool A: Mt Albert GS (Akl), Whangarei GHS (Nth), Waikato Diocesan (Wai), Paeroa College (TV)
Pool B: Howick College (Akl), Hamilton GHS (Wai), Southland GHS (Sth), New Plymouth GHS (Tar)
Pool C: Manukura (Man), Feilding HS (Man), Kerikeri HS (Nth), Taupo-nui-a-Tia College (KC)
Pool D: Christchurch GHS (Can), Aorere College (Akl), Long Bay College (NH), Tauranga GC (BoP)
Pool E: St Mary’s College (Wgn), Manurewa HS (C-M), Westlake GHS (NH), Inglewood HS (Tar)
Pool F: Motueka HS (Tas), Wesley College (C-M), Lytton HS (PB), Queen Margaret College (Wgn)