Tauhara College's first XV coaches had an inkling the season was going to go well when they beat first division team Tawa College in a pre-season game in February.

The team went on to win the Bay of Plenty Secondary School Second Division, beating Katikati College in the final.

The first XV is a 25-strong squad coached by parents Cliff Jones and Paul Kearney.

Tauhara College principal Keith Buntting acknowledged the work done by the coaching and management team.


"Like all schools, we are very dependent on people in our community supporting the school to coach and manage sporting teams, and ultimately give our students these opportunities to succeed."

Jones said the win had elevated the team to the first division, an astounding feat considering they had an average season last year and are one of the smallest colleges in the competition.

"The boys in the team truly represent Taupō. Players came from Tūrangi, the Western Bays, Pukawa, Mangakino, Broadlands Rd and all over the town."

This season the team played Tauranga Boys' College four times, played both their first division teams, and won each time. The score in the last game was 64-0 to Tauhara College.

Jones has coached schoolboy rugby since 1996, and says this year's success can be put down to player commitment, pre-season training that began in January and included a week-long trip to Wellington in February, and a group of kids who were "real ball players".

"It was a year of commitment. We trained at least twice a week and sometimes three times a week, from January to August."

Training included the GB18 (the gut buster 2018), assistance from Golden Gloves boxer Gavin Nicholson, and Sunday Sesh anaerobic sessions with Marie Hooper from Empower Fitness.

Jones' old rugby club Wellington hosted the team for five nights in February.


The boys slept in the clubrooms on mattresses and sponsor the Mole & Chicken supplied food for the trip, sending down chilly bins full of frozen or chilled food.

Training sessions were led by premier coach Richard Deck, ex-All Blacks ex-Hurricanes and former Tauhara College student Dion Waller, and ex-Hurricanes and ex-All Blacks John Schwalger.

Games were played against first division teams Tawa College and Hato Paora College.

A pre-season draw against first division team Taupō-nui-a-Tia College and a win against Aquinas College (who then went up to first division) gave the boys confidence they could do well in the second division.

However, Kearney said they had to dig deep to pull off a win in the finals against Katikati College due to four key players being sidelined with injuries.

"The overall experience has been total positivity and real brotherhood. As young men they have grown. Off the field we have placed an emphasis on the players being approachable, and being leaders at school and in the community. Fear is okay on the rugby paddock, but we want their school mates to enjoy the players," Jones said.

Kearney said the hugely positive life-long skills that students gained through being part of a team sport had been evident in this year's first XV rugby team.

"The emphasis on a positive, affirming team culture, supporting each other, making a strong commitment to their chosen sport and persistently striving to do better has been symbolic of why team sporting opportunities are so important for our students.

"We are very proud of our first XV rugby team. The way they have grown as individuals and as a team has been inspiring and they are fantastic role models for other students."

He said it was gratifying to see seven of the team selected on Tuesday for the King Country under-16 rugby team, with some players missing out for the under-18 team due to injury.

The squad goes into 2019 with 20 players from 2018, and Jones said they would repeat the pre-season training in 2019.