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Douglas Park School returning to nationals

Douglas Park School’s Cian Maclean diving for the try-line at last year’s Rippa Rugby Nationals. PHOTO/DAVE LINTOTT

RIPPA RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
[email protected]

Douglas Park School will be hoping for a favourable draw when they head to Wellington next month for the Rippa Rugby National Championships.

Douglas Park School will be representing the Wairarapa-Bush region for the second year in a row after winning the local competition and then beating the best team from Kapiti.

That win came last week when they beat Paraparaumu Beach School to qualify for nationals.

Douglas Park School were drawn in the ‘pool of death’ last year, alongside powerhouse teams representing Wellington, Auckland, Canterbury and Poverty Bay, who ended up winning the tournament.

Team manager and school sports co-ordinator Amy Williams said they were a very different team from the one that went to nationals last year.

“Only one of them [from last year’s squad] actually ended up coming to Wellington, so it’s a brand new team.

“[Coach] Joe Dahlberg is key really because he’s able to bring together eight or nine new players to emulate that success.”

In pool play last year Douglas Park School went down to Canterbury 15-45, Poverty Bay 0-50, and Auckland 0-65, but they did manage a 25-all draw with Wellington.

They fought back on day two with a convincing 40-20 win over Wanganui, and a narrow 15-20 loss to Waikato.

In their final match, they beat Southland 25-15.

Williams was hopeful the experience gained from attending last year’s tournament would hold them in good stead.

“We beat all the other teams of a similar size, but it was a definite eye-opener.

“Not bad for a little school from Masterton at all.”

Even qualifying for nationals is a remarkable achievement, and Paraparaumu Beach School boast nearly double the number of pupils that Douglas Park School has.

“We’re a school of 300-odd, and they’re 600-plus over there,” Williams said.

“There must be something in the water here.”

The Douglas Park School team and management should also be commended for the way they have conducted themselves on and off the field, with some of the parents of children in the Paraparaumu Beach School team commenting on the warmth and respect shown by Douglas Park School towards their opponents.

This year’s national competition kicks off on September 10.

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