St Johns Hill are going back to this year's National Rippa Rugby Championship for the first time in four years when the 20 team schools tournament gets underway in Wellington next week.

After winning their cluster games in August against four other town schools, St Johns Hill went into the four-team regional playoffs and emerged as the local qualifier, taking over from Hunterville School who went to the capital last year.

"It's a great experience for the kids and we've been lucky enough to go twice prior to this, in 2012-13," said school sports co-ordinator Glen Howells.

The St Johns Hill team is made up of five Year 6 boys, two Year 6 girls and three Year 5 girls, aged 10-11.


"We were the big fish in Whanganui, we go to Wellington we're going to be the little fish - all those schools from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch," said Howells.

Games will played next Monday and Tuesday, with the top two teams from each four-team pool advancing to the quarterfinals, then the semifinals and the championship final.

The team departs on Sunday, with their bus picking up the Palmerston North team along the way, and they will be among 200 pupils staying at a backpackers in the city.

FOMS, the Sharp As transport company and Mitre 10 Mega have come on board as sponsors to help out with clothing and equipment.