Rugby: NZR confirms programme for NZ Schools competition

New Zealand Rugby has today confirmed the programme for the NZ Schools and NZ Barbarians Schools. Photo / Getty Images.
New Zealand Rugby has today confirmed the programme for the NZ Schools and NZ Barbarians Schools. Photo / Getty Images.

Mark down October 3 and 8 to see some of our future stars in action.

New Zealand Rugby has today confirmed the programme for the NZ Schools and NZ Barbarians Schools. The national schools teams will play two games each, against Fiji Schools and Australian Schools in Auckland.

New Zealand Rugby high performance player development manager Mike Anthony said: "Inclusion of the New Zealand Barbarians in this schedule has been critical because we want to keep casting our net wide. It's essential that we develop a wider group for the future. Including a Barbarians team is really important to our organisation.

"The advantages are clear. Take Stephen Perofeta, for example, who played for the Barbarians last year, and within a year he was the starting No 10 for the Under 20 side.

Current All Blacks Damian McKenzie, Lima Sopoaga, Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Ardie Savea have all played for New Zealand Schools as part of their development."

The two teams will not officially face each other this year, but may take part in an opposed run-out in the lead up to the test matches.

"It's important that both teams get the best preparation for their matches against Fiji and Australia. We've been really successful against Australia in the last three years, and two years ago (and in 2012) New Zealand Barbarians Schools also defeated them," said Anthony.

The NZ Schools programme provides an opportunity for young elite school players to be immersed into a high performance environment.

"It's very much a development focus. We want to give our young players the best chance of being better prepared for the demands later on. We've ensured that through having the right people supporting the schools programme, the players have the best rugby experience to date. We've done that through quality providers and quality coaching."

At the end of September, a group of 55 players will be invited to the NZ Schools development camp at the Millennium Institute in Auckland. These players have been identified by the selection network who have been out watching First XV games over the last 5-6 months.

A new strategy introduced two years ago includes the appointment of a Super Rugby coach to work alongside a college First XV coach. This year, Hurricanes assistant coach Jason Holland will be the head coach of New Zealand Schools, relacing Dave Hewett, with Gisborne Boys' High School's long-time coach Tom Cairns as his assistant. Ryan Martin from Otago Boys' High School and Sam Moore from New Plymouth Boys' High School will coach the New Zealand Barbarians Schools.

"The level of support and the quality of support in the management team is extremely important. Having a professional coach in the environment provides leadership and helps to upskill the rest of the group," added Anthony.

"Both programmes are well resourced with support staff including physios, strength and conditioning coaches, performance analysts, nutritionist and mental skills provider. Many are involved at the professional level with Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup teams."

New Zealand Schools and Australian Schools play for the Trans-Tasman Shield, currently held by New Zealand, who defeated Australia 32-8 in last year's clash. The Jerry Collins Memorial Bronze Boot is also awarded at this fixture, to the standout player as chosen by the opposition management. Last year's recipient was prop Alex Fidow, who went on to play for New Zealand in the recent World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Manchester.

In 2015, the NZ Schools narrowly beat NZ Barbarians Schools, 20-18, in Palmerston North, prior to their unbeaten, three-match tour of Australia.

NZ Schools and NZ Barbarians Schools programme:

Saturday September 23-Monday September 25
Development camp (50-55 players)
Millennium Institute, Auckland

Thursday September 29
Australian Schools v Fiji Schools
Sacred Heart College, Auckland
5.00pm

Monday October 3
Australian Schools v NZ Barbarians Schools
Mt Albert Grammar School, Auckland
1.10pm
Fiji Schools v New Zealand Schools
Mt Albert Grammar School
2.50pm

Saturday October 8
Fiji Schools v NZ Barbarians Schools
Auckland Grammar School, Auckland
1.10pm*

Saturday October 8
Australian Schools v New Zealand Schools
Auckland Grammar School
2.50pm*

TV schedule:
*Both games played on Saturday October 8 will be broadcast live on the Rugby Channel.

Management teams:

New Zealand Schools
Head coach: Jason Holland (Hurricanes)
Assistant coach: Tom Cairns (Poverty Bay/Gisborne Boys' High School)
Manager: Nick Reid (Awatapu College)
S&C coach: Gareth Duder (Canterbury)
Physio: Karl Houltham (Highlanders)
Performance analyst: Tom Martin (Manawatu)

NZ Barbarians Schools
Head coach: Ryan Martin (Otago Boys' High School)
Assistant coach: Sam Moore (New Plymouth Boys' High School)
Manager: Chris Metcalfe (Mount Albert Grammar School)
S&C coach: James Holden (Samoa 7s/Northland)
Physio: Andy McGregor (Auckland Grammar School)
Performance analyst: TBC

Support staff to both teams:
Scrum coach: TBC
Mental skills: John Quinn (Canterbury)
Nutritionist: Johnny Rea (Canterbury)

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