Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Rugby World Cup: School skills on display

Graham Henry is a former headmaster of Kelston Boys' High School. Photo / Getty Images
Graham Henry is a former headmaster of Kelston Boys' High School. Photo / Getty Images

While most attention in Auckland this week will focus on Rugby World Cup's ultimate showpiece match this Sunday, the thousands of travelling foreign fans in town will have a unique opportunity to experience some true grassroots rugby.

A special charity match has been organised between two of the top schoolboy sides in the country and organisers hope to capitalise on the rugby fever swirling around the City of Sails and draw a bumper crowd.

This year's secondary schools champions Kelston Boys' High School will take on Christchurch Boys' High in a match under lights at Western Springs Stadium on Thursday. Both schools have a rich rugby heritage and have produced 52 All Blacks between them.

The match has been organised by Ponsonby Rugby Club, with assistance from Springs Promotions, and all proceeds will go to the Christchurch earthquake relief fund.

"We thought it was a great opportunity - with so many rugby fans in town - to showcase the best of New Zealand schools rugby while also doing something for charity," says event organiser Tyrone Campbell.

Founded in 1962, Kelston have taken the national title on five occasions (1989, 1995-96, 1999 and 2011) and were world schools champions in 1989.

The school has produced 10 All Blacks since 1989, including Va'aiga Tuigamala, Kees Meeuws, Mils Muliaina, Sam Tuitupou and Sione Lauaki, as well as Samoan representatives Trevor Leota and Apollo Perelini.

Graham Henry is a former headmaster, while league stars Awen Guttenbeil and Jarrod McCracken and ex-All White Danny Hay are former pupils.

Christchurch Boys' High have been national champions three times (2004-06). During this streak, they boasted current All Blacks Colin Slade, Ben Franks and Matt Todd on their roster. The southern school has a staggering 42 All Blacks among its alumni. These include legends Bob Deans - who in 1905 was denied the most famous "non-try" in All Black history, as the New Zealand Originals fell to Wales - and Fergie McCormick, who scored a then world record 24 points in one test in 1969.

Modern representatives have included Daniel Carter, Andrew Mehrtens, Aaron Mauger, Richard Loe and Adam Thomson, while the school was also home to cricket's Hadlee family, politician Don Brash and Once Were Warriors writer Alan Duff.

Tickets ($10 for adults; $5 students) are available through Ticketmaster or at the gate on Thursday night and the match kicks off at 7.30pm.

- Herald on Sunday

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