Talented Auckland touch reps impress at junior nationals
Youngsters from Auckland came out on top at the SAS Junior Nationals Touch Championships held in Papamoa on February 14 to 16.
Six Auckland teams across all grades took part in the event and every Auckland team finished in the top four of their grade.
Auckland was also awarded the inaugural SAS Provincial Cup for the best performing province at the nationals.
Auckland Touch president Rolph Watson says the tournament was a stunning success.
Based on their performances, 18 Auckland players were selected for the under-15 and under17 New Zealand development teams to tour Australia in August and September. Eight of the selected players live in Central Auckland.
Another 23 players have been selected to attend the National Youth Elite Academy in September. The number shows just how strong touch is in Auckland, Mr Watson says.
‘‘It’s an honour to have strong young players representing Auckland Touch with pride and earning respectability from their peers.
The Junior Nationals has grown from a 12-team regional event to a provincial-based event that includes 64 teams.
It is by far the largest annual national event run by Touch New Zealand, Mr Watson says.
‘‘Junior-age touch in New Zealand is the foundation cornerstone for our sport at the grassroots level. This, by default, feeds into the junior-age representative levels with significant increased participation nationally.’’
Good mood: Ponsonby players run on to the field.
Top player: Auckland’s Tysha Ikenasio has made the under-17 New Zealand representative team.
Future star: Auckland player Victoria Pone, centre, was selected for the under-15 New Zealand team after the Junior Touch Nationals.