Touch Rugby: Juniors defy the odds

By Cameron Leslie

Northlanders are renowned for fighting above their weight class, and our under-13 touch team is no different.

Boasting only 28 kids from across the region for two touch teams, compared to 200 from North Harbour and the same again from Counties-Manukau, Te Tai Tokerau's under-13 kids managed to defend their IPS Cup title.

Team manager Chantez Connor said it was the Northland attitude which helped get the Tai Tokerau team through despite having to travel the furthest to the tournament in Rotorua on Northland anniversary weekend

"I just put it down to the province of Northland," said Connor. "Those parents would get them down or across town to meet that [training] commitment [over 10 weeks].

"[We're] very proud to know we can bring championships home. At this level of sports our kids deserve to be acknowledged for all their hard work, and all the parents that help us get them to these tournaments."

Connor said this is their third visit to the tournament and each year she has tried to keep the cost to parents down with fundraising and local sponsorship.

She noted a $500 contribution from Fulton Hogan as playing a big part in getting the team to Rotorua. Once in Rotorua, it was a food contribution from Pak 'n' Save which helped keep the kids going throughout the long competition days.

"We try and keep the fees down as much as we can, but in their fees they get a uniform and accommodation.

"For my role, it was about trying to seek sponsorship and what we did get was great as it meant we could bring our fees down for our parents.

"That was [Pak 'n' Save's contribution] just a massive help towards what we needed to feed our kids over those three days, just food to keep their energy up when they're playing five games a day."

Connor said the highlight for her as a manager was the team's ability to leave their mark on a tournament that you'd expect an Auckland-based team to take out, because most have two or three teams in each age-group module.

Connor noted 12-year-old Paul Turner was selected into the Kiwis under-16 team.

Northland's under-13 touch team: B. Bently-Hape, D. Brown, K. Herma, C. Job (F), K. Walters-Preston (F), T. Rudolph, R. Reihana, T.Shortland (F), M. St Bruno-Ferris, Q. Tito, P. Turner, S. Turner (F), S. Turner (F), D. Hati; Coaches: Bevan Hati, Boyce Turner; Manager: Chantez Connor.

- Northern Advocate

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