Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Baywide Rippa finale looms for top junior sides

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Te Akau Ki Papamoa School represented Bay of Plenty at last year's Rippa Rugby Championship. Photo / Dave Lintott
Te Akau Ki Papamoa School represented Bay of Plenty at last year's Rippa Rugby Championship. Photo / Dave Lintott

The pride of Bay of Plenty's young aspiring rugby players will reach their very own version of a Rugby World Cup on Wednesday.

Almost 1500 children in two grades of Years 3-4 and Years 5-6 have been involved in three Rippa Rugby World Cup tournaments over the past three weeks.

The top 12 teams in each grade have qualified to compete in the hugely popular Baywide Rippa Rugby World Cup.

These tournaments have been running for 10 years and are a chance for our next Sam Cane and Nathan Harris to take their first steps in playing rugby.

But it is not just for the boys to enjoy. Each team must have five girls and five boys for all three regional tournaments, the Baywide tournament and NZR National Tournament.

It is a great introduction into rugby for these players, learning passing, catching, evasion, support, communication and working as a team.

This year 64 teams have competed in Western Bay of Plenty, 40 teams in Central Bay of Plenty and 40 teams in Eastern Bay of Plenty. The 144 teams involved were from 76 schools.

Brett Johnson, Western Bay of Plenty junior rugby development officer at Bay of Plenty Rugby, said: "It is great to see the number of kids, in particular girls involved in Rippa Rugby.

"We have witnessed some amazing talent over the past couple of weeks, it is hard to believe they are Years 3 to 6.

"It should be a fantastic day to see the best Rippa Rugby talent for each area of the Bay of Plenty on display. It is an awesome experience and day for all who are involved."

The winner of the Years 5-6 competition will represent Bay of Plenty at the national Air New Zealand Rippa Rugby Championship in Wellington from August 22-23.

Last year Te Akau Ki Papamoa finished third at the tournament.

The random draw allocated one country competing in the Rugby World Club to each of the schools that qualified from regional competitions, with Te Akau Ki Papamoa wearing the black New Zealand jersey.

The mixed team of five boys and five girls finished the tournament winning bronze medals.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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