It was the captain's day as Napier Boys' High School regained the national secondary school rugby challenge trophy the Moascar Cup with a 15-10 win in the annual Hawke's Bay derby against Hastings Boys High School in Hasting.

Napier skipper and hooker Will Robinson, who is back in 2020 after a knee reconstruction last season, scored the match-winning try, with more than 20 minutes still to go in the half.

It was a proud moment noted by NBHS and former Hawke's Bay Magpies coach Brendon Ratcliffe and former long-term Napier first fifteen coach Del White, a teacher at Hawke's Bay's biggest school for more than 37 years.

Not many of their players get to play for the Moascar Cup, regarded as the Ranfurly Shield of schools rugby.

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Napier Boys High centre and tryscorer Jarden Stok (blue) clashes with Hastings player Adam Bibby. Photo / Paul Taylor
Napier Boys High centre and tryscorer Jarden Stok (blue) clashes with Hastings player Adam Bibby. Photo / Paul Taylor

White, who coached Napier Boys' to a national Top 4 win in 2002 and a Moascar Cup
triumph the following season, says: "We hardly ever see the Cup any more."

Essentially, it's tied-up mainly in the traditional annual matches of the holder, such as Auckland where it was threatening to find a permanent home, or in the national Top Four playoffs.

Napier held it two years ago, when they beat Christchurch Boys in the semifinal, only to lose it two days later when beaten 31-28 by Auckland school St Peter's College, while Hastings got their mitts on it in the last game of last season, with a 27-14 win over King's College, the third Auckland school to have held the cup in a year.

It's the centenary year of the cup which was once almost permanently in the region, for from 1927 to 1950 only Te Aute College and Palmerston North Boys High School ever held the trophy. In the last decade it had spent lengthy periods in Auckland and the South Island.

The Napier-Hastings match each year is a biggie on the Hawke's Bay sports calendar, with as many as 5000 having at times graced the sidelines, in a sea of colour and rivalry, once or twice including a blue goat, and a chainsaw.

On Saturday though, the crowd was less than 2000 and largely free of the pageantry and crowd engagement of many of the past tussles.

The conditions at Hastings Boys High School on Saturday were ideal - fine weather, a breeze/wind from the northeastern end of the school block and the digital-display scoreboard, firm ground and bare trees on the railway side of the field.


Napier were up 10-3 at halftime after a first half with the wind.

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First-five Carlos Kemp had kicked an early penalty, and with about 8 minutes to go in the first half put the visiting team up 10-0 with the conversion of the first try, scored in a well-executed move in which Kemp infield to centre and third-year first fifteen player Jayden Stok , who gathered the bounce and ran in under the posts.


Hastings replied with a rare first-half insurgence into opposition territory to claim a late penalty goal, kicked by their first-five, Hoera Stephenson, and then levelled the scores 10-all about seven minutes after halftime with a try to hooker Jacob Dorward.

The impetus for the decider came from Hastings' misfielding of the kickoff.

Hastings captain Cooper Flanders, brother of Hawke's Bay Magpies and Super Rugby player and former school captain Devon Flanders wrestles possession in the first half on defence. Photo / Paul Taylor
Hastings captain Cooper Flanders, brother of Hawke's Bay Magpies and Super Rugby player and former school captain Devon Flanders wrestles possession in the first half on defence. Photo / Paul Taylor

Napier regathered and for five minutes sustained possession before a well-placed kick from second five-eighths Tipene Maxwell, a forward drive led by Ennor, and the final charge by the captain.

"We held it in the back, and let it go," said Will Robinson, a 17-year-old five-days-a-week boarder, a prefect, and a school Senior A canoe polo team member who also has among his kit a Hawke's Bay schools novice shearing title.

Like most in the game, he had family along, including Mum and Dad Andrea and John up from the beef and sheep farm near Dannevirke.

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John is a former pupil of Napier Boys', as was his father.

For Hastings, it was an understandable disappointment, the Covid-19 having robbed them of their chance to play a second World Invitation schools tournament in Japan, and a chance to defend the Top Four title this year amid the cancellation of that championship for 2020.

Hastings manager Jason Bird said "We certainly had our chances, but Napier deserve the win".

For Napier's Ratcliffe and his coaching/management Dave Russell and High Henderson., a win's a win.

"It doesn't get much uglier, we had to grind away," says Ratcliffe, reflecting on the game itself. "These are epic contests. That's a group of young men of substance. It doesn't get much more beautiful than that."

Turning to the result, he says: "It doesn't get prettier", or more beautiful."

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