Te Akau ki Pāpāmoa (TAKP) Primary School is officially home to some of the best Rippa Rugby players in New Zealand.
After two days of competition in Wellington, the 10-strong squad from Te Akau ki Pāpāmoa (TAKP) have scored second place in the 2018 Air New Zealand Rippa Championship, where they were representing the Bay of Plenty region.
After winning all of their pool matches on Monday - beating Auckland 9-7, Otago 10-5, Northland 9-7 and West Coast 11-4 - they got through their quarter-final match against King Country this morning unscathed, beating them 5-4.
From there TAKP took on North Harbour in this morning's semifinal match, securing a finals face-off with a score of 7-6 in overtime.
Although unsuccessful in the final, losing to Manawatu 7-10, the pupils can be very proud of their efforts in the national competition, where they earned silver as New Zealand's second-best team.
Rippa Rugby is a New Zealand Rugby initiative to involve boys and girls into the game from a young age to learn basic skills without the contact of tackle. Similar to touch, the young athletes wear two ribbons on a velcro belt and the opposing team aims to rip one off.
Their silver placing followed a surprise visit from 13 All Blacks on Monday evening, in Wellington ahead of their match against South Africa on Saturday.
The All Blacks served dinner to the Papamoa kids and the 19 other teams, also spending time with them taking photos and answering questions.
This year is the third time in five years the school has been represented at the nationals, finishing third in both 2014 and 2015.
New Zealand Rugby head of participation and development Steve Lancaster
said making the national competition, which aimed to give young people positive experiences and to develop a lifelong love of rugby, was no easy feat.
"To qualify for the Rippa champs is a big achievement and all of the teams should
be really proud of the way they played and represented their school and
province," Lancaster said.
Principal Bruce Jepson was proud of his school right from their first day of competition, winning every game and making the top eight on day one.