College on target for sporting grand slam
For the first time in more than 170 years, senior College teams are in title contention in four major winter sports over the next two weeks.
College Director of Sport Rob Clarke says that “all the teams were able to stay connected over the lockdown virtually and continued to stay focused on the possibility of regional finals going ahead and finishing their seasons off in a positive note”.
“Coaching staff have done a great job to enable this and keep a positive culture among the groups as they navigated lockdown and then sport restrictions at Alert Level 2,” he says.
“To have four teams vying for regional title honours – at the highest level in school sport – in four distinct sporting codes is a remarkable achievement.”
College will contest the Crusaders 1st XV rugby regional final against Nelson College at Trafalgar Park on Saturday after overcoming the upheavals that have delayed the big day. College is chasing a historic first title, having scored a final spot in the inaugural year of the regional championship in 2001 and again in 2018, only to lose the trophy to Christchurch Boys’ High School after an 18-all draw was decided on the number of tries scored.
Captained by Johnny Lee, the opportunity to finally secure the title means a great deal to all the players and supporters.
“It is only the third time a College rugby team has ever made the final and it would mean a lot to all of us if we could be the first College team to ever win it,” Johnny says.
On Friday evening, the 1st XI lines up for a shot at the regional hocky competition title against Timaru Boys’ High School at Ngā Puna Wai. It is the eighth final in 10 years for College, with four title wins overall, and the team defending the title won last year.
Led by Archie Batchelor, the top hockey side is peaking at the right time following a run of outstanding form prior to the lockdown, including beating the top seed.
“Despite a rocky start, the boys have found the right form coming into the playoffs and are on track to carry this form through to Friday’s big game,” Archie says. “We are a young team and boys of all ages have really stepped up throughout the season.”
The College A basketball team – led by standout Josh Book – will be aiming for top honours after finishing the round robin of the Thomson Trophy competition unbeaten. College faces Cashmere High School in the semi-finals at the St Andrew’s College gym next Tuesday evening.
“What excites us the most is the opportunity to do something that has never been done before by College basketball and go back-to-back in winning the Thomson Trophy Canterbury competition,” Josh says. “We have been training and working hard for a long time and for it all to culminate in a finals win would be perfect.”
The 1st XI football side will also be in the spotlight on Friday at 5pm, facing St Thomas of Canterbury in the semi-finals at the Christchurch United facility in Yaldhurst as College targets a title final spot the following Wednesday.
Led by national U19 representative Daniel Metherell and Kosei Oikawa, the team is determined to make the final after semi-final losses in the past two years.
“After a very successful season so far this year – playing 11 games and winning all 11 – the team and I are confident we are more than capable of going all the way this year,” Daniel says. “We are yet to prove we are the best and winning these two last games will do just that.
“It is a very exciting time for us as a team as we have been playing some quality football, representing College with pride, and know that if we continue in this form we will be able to beat St Thomas again and reach the final for the first time in many years. During lockdown, the entire team stayed dedicated and did the work while stuck at home. Over the past week, we have put in nothing short of 100%. We are more than very excited for the games ahead and hope that the boys can get behind us in our attempt of taking it all out.”
Rob Clarke adds that it is “unfortunate that all these matches are being held with very limited spectator numbers because of Covid-19 Level 2 restrictions, but it is great to still be able to have these teams, and a number of other teams, complete their seasons and play for their respective competition titles – despite the disruption of the recent lockdown”.
“Technology has stepped up and there will be coverage of all these games either live on SKY (rugby) or via live-stream (football, basketball and hockey).”