First XV 1B championship grand final result … Botany Downs Secondary College beating One Tree Hill College 18-15 … at Eden Park.
Botany Downs Secondary have been unbeaten all season, and to get promoted to the 1A grade for next year, for the first time in the college’s rugby history, is an excellent achievement for a relatively young secondary school.
Karen Brinsden, the principal of 14-year-old Botany Downs Secondary College, says their rugby First XV have “made history for the school and this community”, in claiming the 1B Championship title.
“To go undefeated this season, to have the opportunity to play at Eden Park and to win their championship final is massive.
“This is what school rugby is about. This has been their dream for which they have worked hard at week in, week out,” Brinsden says.
“The success has come through the commitment of the boys in focusing on teamwork, sticking with their game plan and remaining humble.
“Behind the boys has been a dedicated coaching (Alan Taylor, Erin Johnston, Logan Fui) and management team (Kauen Nauer, Theo Valk) along with tremendous family support.
“We’re so proud of our boys and their achievements.”
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Thirteen consecutive wins sweep Botany Downs Secondary to championship
To battle through a winter code season unbeaten is a rare and special accomplishment. To do it in Auckland’s highly competitive rugby First XV arena makes the achievement even more unique.
Botany Downs Secondary College, acknowledged as a high-performing secondary school in many fields, is only 14 years old and to have its First XV ready to contest the world’s toughest college rugby competition next year is a reflection of the high standards it sets.
It also has a rugby benchmark example to draw inspiration and influence from just down the road, at Saint Kentigern College in Pakuranga, who have dominated the 1A grade for the past decade and won that competition five times in the past seven years.
It was a victorious day for East Auckland at Eden Park finals on August 26, with St Kents beating Sacred Heart College 26-19 in the 1A grade season-decider, and in the curtain-raiser Botany Downs Secondary defeating One Tree Hill College in a nail-biting 1B grade Championship final 18-15.
Botany Downs Secondary’s First XV finished the season undefeated with 13 wins from as many matches, scoring 415 points and conceding 102, with halfback and goalkicker Harry Valk amassing 120.
“I feel very happy for the boys who have worked so hard,” coach Alan Taylor says.
“We did not do anything special except set high standards, which the boys set themselves regarding values and accountability.
“The focus has been on continually improving core skills, and while this got a little repetitive at times the boys’ development throughout this season has been a feature of the last two years.
“We’ve concentrated on what’s important and successful at this level, and not tried to emulate professional rugby.
“A highlight is that every match was played with tremendous spirit, with the behaviour in all 13 games from both sides at the absolutely highest level.
“Our team members were required to uphold the college values before they could get selected each week, accompanied by a weekly school achievement award that was often presented to a player who had a special NCEA result that week,” Taylor says.
“Our experienced managerial team had a good balance which allowed each area to focus solely on their job. This team met regularly to see where improvements could be made which also included our physio team from Moves.”
Taylor says loosehead prop Suliasi Mafileo was the player of the day in the Eden Park final, midfield backs Johnny Sanft and Albany Saifoloi put in top performances, while blindside flanker Isikeli Vite continued his good season with impressive line breaks in the second half.
“Co-captain Otto Sanft had another great game in the final, too, and was awarded the season’s best and fairest player.”
Botany Downs Secondary principal Karen Brinsden says “our First XV have made history for the school and this community”.
“To go undefeated, to have the opportunity to play at Eden Park, and to win their championship final is massive. This is what school rugby is about. This has been their dream for which they have worked hard at week in, week out.
“The success this season has come through the commitment of the boys in focusing on teamwork, sticking with their game plan and remaining humble.
“We’re so proud of our boys and their achievements.”
Brinsden also pays tribute to the “dedicated” coaching and management team of Taylor, Erin Johnston, Logan Fui, Kauen Nauer and Theo Valk, “along with the tremendous family support”.
The college’s director of sport, Karl McLennan, is also very proud of the First XV, “for their hard work, resilience and pride they showed in the BDSC jersey”.
“The First XV have set the standard that our younger players are striving to reach. We look forward to see what the future holds for BDSC sport.”
Botany Downs Secondary has one more hurdle to jump before joining the 1A grade, a playoff match against the bottom-placed 1A side this year, Tamaki College, at the start of next season.
Botany Downs Secondary College First XV, 2017 Auckland secondary schools 1B grade champions: Chee Jordan, Lantze Davids, Dylan Fennessy, Raymond Fifita, Tevita Fifita, Cameron Finefueiaki, Alijah George, Quentin Hill, Jacob Jackson, Corne Ludick, Suliasi Mafileo, Milan Mann, Tyberg Mauafua, Philip Murray-Stowers, Brandon Nauer, Albany Saifoloi, Johnny Sanft, Otto Sanft (co-captian), Jet Saunders, Tayne Schoeman, Jack Sinfield, Taedyn Te Haki, Harry Valk, Isikeli Vite, Tommie Wiid, Armani Wright (co-captain).
˜ stuff.co.nz / PJ Taylor