Representing your country at any level, in any sport, is a great honour. To kick the match-winning conversion is the cherry on top.

That was the case for Western Heights High School student Bailey Gordon, who was selected in the New Zealand Māori Under-18 team to play the New Zealand Barbarian Schools team last month.

Down 20-14 with about five minutes remaining in September's match, the Māori side strung together at least a dozen phases, eventually breaching the defence when reserve flanker Taylor Dale, of Otago Boys' High School, muscled over close to the posts.

Trailing 20-19, it was up to the goal kicker Gordon to step up and give his side the win. Step up he did as he slotted the conversion for a 21-20 victory.


How does one stay calm under such pressure? By thinking there were still 10 minutes left to play.

"To be honest, I was thinking it was an 80-minute game, but it was actually a 70-minute game and we were around the 69-minute mark. I thought 'sweet as, we've got heaps of time'.

"It was lucky I actually thought that, it calmed me down a bit. I was over the moon when I kicked it," Gordon said.

The New Zealand Māori Under-18s celebrate a last-minute win over the New Zealand Barbarian Schools team. Photo / Supplied
The New Zealand Māori Under-18s celebrate a last-minute win over the New Zealand Barbarian Schools team. Photo / Supplied

He said he was surprised, but pleased, to be selected for the New Zealand Māori side. They played a second game against a Fiji under-18 side which they won 20-15. Also in the team were Rotorua Boys' High School students Te Rama Reuben and Zach Ririnui.

"I felt happy as - having a second opportunity after not making the Barbarians or secondary schools. It was another opportunity for me to go play rugby and represent my family, my school and my region.

"I've never played for a Māori representative, so that was new, but it was good and I was happy I did it. It was probably the top team I've been in, in terms of the culture. Everyone was on the same level, everyone was so nice to each other, we were all in it together. The boys were amazing."

Gordon is in Year 13 at Western Heights and has recently signed with the Bay of Plenty Rugby High Performance Program (Academy) for next year.

"I might be moving to Tauranga to live in the flats they have over there. If I do go over there I'd play for a Premier [Baywide club team], have a routine of training morning and night and either studying or working in between.


"I've had numerous amounts of clubs ask me, but I'm still deciding. It all depends on if I move to Tauranga or not."

Next up for Gordon is the Baywide Secondary Schools Sevens next month, in which his Western Heights team will be aiming to qualify for a spot at the National Condors Sevens Tournament in December.