At Mount Albert Grammar, the history of where the First XV and school have come from is just as important as where they're heading.
That's the view of MAGS' Director of Rugby and First XV coach Nick Leger, who is finding new ways to motivate student-athletes as the school approaches a historic milestone.
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"Every team has some kind of mantra or mission statement but for our school this year we call it "on our watch" and one the thing the boys appreciate at a school like this is that Mount Albert's coming up to 100 years as a school," said Leger.
"Since 1922 Mount Albert has had a First XV playing in the 1A competition and we're one of the few schools who have done that and never gone down. One of the things we believe in is we're all part of the school's legacy and we have a saying that we respect the past and inspire the future but also try and live in the now."
"You come into our hall and it's steeped with history. There are names of people who have been sport captains, prefects and not just sport people but academic achievers and we also have New Zealand representatives in various different sports so when students are at assemblies they realise MAGS has a really proud history in so many different avenues."
Leger's made sure to call on some of the famous rugby names to come out of Mount Albert Grammar School in order to truly illustrate the meaning of being part of the legacy as a student here.
"I never went to MAGS, so it's easy for me to sing the praises of MAGS and while I respect and honour the school, I can only pump things up to a certain extent. A lot of our coaches and people who help with the team are ex MAGS students.
"Currently with the First XV we have Rocky Khan the former New Zealand Sevens player and Tony Hanks who was with the Blues for a long time and coached the London Wasps and Waikato is an old student who's come back and has kids here. A lot of the Blues guys like Caleb Clarke, Alex Hodgman, Ezekiel Lindenmuth and Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa and then the likes of Jack Goodhue are always spending a lot of time here.
"Then we've had other guys involved with the Blues like Tom Coventry and Leon Macdonald who both have kids and Tom's wife works here as a teacher." Leger said.
At Mount Albert Grammar school the 'books before rugby balls' ethos is an important one for students to follow.
"First and foremost we are a school which is the really important thing. People often talk about when you're playing footy that you have a plan B, but we have the opposite here where school's plan A and rugby's plan B. "Leger added.
MAGS won the 1A competition in 2016 and have notched up one win over Aorere College and two tight losses to St Kentigern College and Kelston Boys' High School in the first three rounds of the current campaign to sit eighth on a congested competition ladder, with St Peter's College next up this weekend.
Leger says while part of his role is to look after the health of rugby at the school, it's also important to tap into competitiveness.
"It is a fine balance as you do want participation, but also to be competitive. People say you should play for fun, but you don't have any fun if you're losing every week. You've still got to enjoy it and you've got to be competitive and you've got to enjoy people's company. That's one of the things we try and focus on here is making sure school is a positive experience for the students." Leger said
Seventy percent of this year's squad is comprised of year 12's with a small chunk of year 11's and 13's mixed in.
Leger says everyone is encouraged to have a positive input into the dynamics of the team.
"Our leadership group is made up of year 12 and 13's as we're trying to grow the leadership within the school which is one thing we're really big on. Quinton Nichols is our captain in the midfield and has played in the First XV for a couple of years now. He's a house prefect and played in the Blues Under-18 team last year and is a very good leader. Jackson Meecham's a year 12 at loose forward, Levi Wilson's a year 12 outside back, TJ Ailoi's a year 12 front rower and Liston Tupou's a year 13 who plays loose forward. That's the crux of our leadership group, but we try to make everyone leaders."
Leger's brother Gus coaches the Sacred Heart College First XV and the siblings will face off when their teams meet on September 12. Nick said they are both supportive of each other, within reason.
"To be honest it doesn't become an issue. One thing that Gus and I do most Sundays is we'll ring each other and chat about our games. We believe in order to improve you need to share, so we share a lot of information. I don't give him everything and he's the same, but we do share a lot of philosophical things. When we do play each other its team related. You don't like to lose and it is competitive, but it's one of those things that other people make a bigger deal of than we do."
Auckland 1A First XV Schedule 2020 Round Four – Saturday 25th July:
Dilworth School vs De La Salle College: Dilworth School: Field 1- 1pm
Sacred Heart College vs St Kentigern College: Sacred Heart College: Field 1- 2:30pm
Aorere College vs Liston College: Aorere College: Field 1- 2:30pm
Mt Albert Grammar School vs St Peter's College: Mount Albert Grammar School: Sir BG Williams Field- 2:30pm
Kelston Boys' High School vs Auckland Grammar School: Kelston Boys' High School: Field 1- 2:30pm
Tangaroa College vs King's College: Tangaroa College: Field 1: 2:30pm