Young good sports make rugby the winner

By Roger Moroney

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Napier Pirates Rugby Club prop William Marsden (front) with coach David Taukamo and the rest of the 11th grade team, giving their victory salute. Photo/Duncan Brown
Napier Pirates Rugby Club prop William Marsden (front) with coach David Taukamo and the rest of the 11th grade team, giving their victory salute. Photo/Duncan Brown

It was shaping up to be another win for the unbeaten Napier Pirates 11th Grade team as they over-ran their Flaxmere opponents last Saturday and pushed out to a remarkable 86-0 lead.

But there was no gloating or glee at the scoreline from the Pirates boys - there was the opposite.

Their 11-year-prop William Marsden summed up the team's unique approach to how a game should be played and led the call for Flaxmere to "come on, give it a go!" as they got close to the line he and his teammates were defending towards the end of the match at Flaxmere's Ron Giorgi Park.

It was effectively the equivalent of Richie McCaw ignoring the fact his All Blacks side had a big lead and urging his opposite number to do his best and go for the try-line.

The youngster's calls of support for the struggling opposition impressed several bystanders, among them Henare O'Keefe who was also cheering on the local lads.

At the end of the game he approached both teams as they put together a united huddle to cheer "hippray hippray hippray!" to each other and told them how impressed he was at William's sporting attitude.

But as Pirates coach David Taukamo pointed out to Mr O'Keefe and other impressed locals, it wasn't just William.

"It's the whole team - that's how we play it."

It is a philosophy toward rugby Mr Taukamo has promoted since he began coaching with Pirates about three years ago.

"We always take that approach and it doesn't matter who we play.

"You don't diss the other side at any time - I teach the team to be humble and even when you are winning by a big margin you can't take the game away from the other side because they have given it their best."

Mr Taukamo said his young players had taken his approach on board and it now came naturally to them.

"It is about having a good attitude - that is the main thing," Mr Taukamo said.

It was also reflected in their approach to training and giving it their best sporting shot as they had yet to lose a game.

William's mum Valerie said she was proud of the way her son, and his teammates, approached the game and gave their opponents credit, and support, out on the field. "Yes, people do say it is unusual but that's the way they play it."

William said the score really did not come into it when giving the opposition praise.

"If it was three-all I still would - it's sportsmanship."

He has been playing since he was 5 and was following in older brother Ben's playing footsteps - Ben plays for Napier Boy's High School and both had been sparked by their dad Brent's advice and support through the years.

His No1 ambition? "To be an All Black."

Asked who his favourite player was, he asked, "Can I have four?".

He rates Israel Dagg, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and the No3 prop (of course) Owen Franks.

"I reckon we'll be unbeaten this season," he said. "But even if we lose one it doesn't matter - it's only a game."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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