Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Bay students get up close and personal to rugby's top prize

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On an unforgettable afternoon, Bay students got an intimate viewing of the pinnacle trophy in world rugby - the Webb Ellis Cup.

The cup, held aloft by captain Richie McCaw in England in October after the All Blacks' rousing Rugby World Cup victory, made a stop at Papamoa College Thursday afternoon during its six-week tour around New Zealand.

LUCKY: Papamoa College First XV captain Jordan Nimmo, 16, grins while holding the glittering Webb Ellis Cup.PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
LUCKY: Papamoa College First XV captain Jordan Nimmo, 16, grins while holding the glittering Webb Ellis Cup.PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

The students, who had played rugby for the school in the First XV, under-14s or the girls' team, got to stand near the cup and take numerous selfies. But only one lucky student donned white gloves to hold the trophy, first XV captain Jordan Nimmo, 16.

The white gloves were out of respect, as only winners are allowed to actually touch the trophy.

"It was an experience and a half," Jordan said.

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The 4.5kg cup felt nice and comfortable to hold, he said. The lid on the trophy was bent and did not fit properly anymore after the All Blacks celebrated a bit too hard last year.

All his mates were naturally jealous and said he was lucky.

"It's good to have this opportunity to have the cup visit our school," he said.

Papamoa College staff were almost more excited than the students, as many of them crowded around to catch a glimpse of the glittering gold cup, squealing when it was lifted out of its travelling case and snapping selfies right alongside the kids.

The trophy was touring New Zealand schools as part of a drive to sign up teenagers for rugby and to say thank you for playing rugby.

Community Rugby and Provincial Union Rugby general manager Brent Anderson said rugby provided young people with skills that set them up for life.

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"Rugby's a great way to keep fit and have fun with your mates, but more than that, kids learn commitment to be reliable and accountable to others, and become part of a community," he said.

Getting more teenagers involved in the sport was a focus for New Zealand Rugby, and the organisation was challenging high schools to sign up one more team and those that do go into a draw to win a visit from the All Blacks, Mr Anderson said.

Papamoa College principal Steve Lindsey said it was fantastic to have the trophy at his school and it was a "shot in the arm" for encouraging students to play.

He said as a new school they were continuing to develop their rugby community and culture, and had already received great support from parents, staff and the community.

NZ Rugby Union handlers were touring the cup to 75 New Zealand schools, and were heading to the South Island next week.

Tauranga Boys' College was also scheduled to receive a visit on Thursday afternoon but its handlers got stuck in traffic caused by the bad weather.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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