The Gordon Brown Memorial Cup being carted across the Manawatu/Whanganui border on Saturday afternoon is a story worth celebrating as a victory for opportunity.

In 2016 Carl Gibson and Darryl Malcolm hatched a plan to create a Whanganui colts (under-21) rugby team to compete in the Manawatu Union's colts competition.

A similar grade in Whanganui was long extinct and the co-coaches felt there was a gap between school rugby and senior club rugby locally.

Read more: Whanganui Metro win Manawatu Colts rugby championship


They feared keen rugby players, who had left school but weren't ready for the rigours senior club competition, would just stop playing and there was plenty of anecdotal evidence to back that up.

The danger was that would only exacerbate problems with keeping young people in sport and local clubs going strong which would create a domino effect through higher grades.

So a team wearing blue and white hoops was formed and allowed to play in the Manawatu competition.

And it's worked.

Firstly and most importantly it's given a place for colts-aged players to play out of Whanganui.

But it's also created a path to professional rugby for players like Te Rangatira Waitokia who was plucked from Metro to be part of the Heartland Championship winning Wanganui side and then went on to sign with Manawatu in the Mitre 10 Cup (some reward for their part in allowing Metro to exist) while players like Desmond Tyrell have juggled Metro with playing premier club rugby.

That aside, Metro have made the playoffs each year but until Saturday the title had eluded them.

Third time lucky, though, as Metro cruised to lift the trophy in their third season this year.


Hopefully what has been achieved will spur departing players to stay in the game with Whanganui clubs and encourage new players to take up the mantle.

The Metro colts story is a sports story with a universal moral. It shows what can be achieved when opportunities are created for young people to thrive.

And we need to thank people like Gibson and Malcolm for giving it to them.