MAGS’ first XV fin­ishes sec­ond in world

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - SAMHEWAT

Mount Al­bert Gram­mar School’s First XV rugby team are the sec­ond-best high school side across the globe.

The team picked up the sil­ver medal at the Sanix World Rugby Youth Tour­na­ment in Ja­pan last month - a com­pe­ti­tion that has been won by New Zealand schools nine times through­out its 17-year his­tory.

They beat out high school teams from Rus­sia, Ja­pan, South Africa, Fiji, Eng­land, Chi­nese Taipei, and Korea, be­fore los­ing to Lycees de la Borde Basse from France in a close fi­nal.

But it could have gone the other way for MAGS, who lost 3-9 to the French team, and were dis­al­lowed a try that the ref­eree later apol­o­gised for not award­ing.

MAGS coach Ge­off Moon said his side came close to be­ing crowned world cham­pi­ons, but they could still be pleased with the per­for­mance.

‘‘That game could have gone ei­ther way,’’ Moon said.

‘‘We were very close to ac­tu­ally win­ning it, es­pe­cially with the dis­al­lowed try, but we’re proud at just how much we im­proved dur­ing the week.’’

The tour­na­ment at­tracts the world’s best high school teams ev­ery year, as they come to meet in Fukuoka, Ja­pan.

MAGS were sent to the tour­na­ment af­ter win­ning the na­tional high school com­pe­ti­tion in 2016.

De­spite not tak­ing home the top prize, Moon said the tour was a once in a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence that his players would never for­get.

‘‘The tour­na­ment was amaz­ing. It was an un­real ex­peri- ence and the Ja­panese are the world’s best hosts.

‘‘They don’t do any­thing in halves. The sil­ver medal looks like a dis­cus on a piece of rope, you feel like the mayor walk­ing around with one of those.’’

The big chal­lenge for MAGS is to now con­vert their mo­men­tum over­seas, into the up­com­ing First XV com­pe­ti­tion which starts for them this weekend - just six days af­ter re­turn­ing home.

Moon said his side had grown from the tour­na­ment, but this weekend would be a real test.

‘‘The team has com­pletely tight­ened up and they are very clear on their trust for each other,’’ he said. ‘‘The prob­lem we have is pyscho­log­i­cally the boys are shat­tered. This Satur­day we’ll be vul­ner­a­ble so we’re just try­ing to rest hard this week.’’

SUP­PLIED/DENRICK PRO­DUC­TIONS

The Mount Al­bert Gram­mar School First XV fin­ished sec­ond at the 2017 Sanix World Rugby Youth Tour­na­ment in Ja­pan.

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