Young stars on radar
Selection onto the Otago team that won the recent South Island Primary Schools Rugby Tournament was thrill enough for Clyde school-boy Midge van Boxtel. But getting a call-up to represent his region in the South Island under-14 rugby competition at Waikiwi near Invercargill last Saturday capped it off. Initially selected for Central, one of the three Otago sub-regions along with South West and Metro, the 13-year-old was the only Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes player on the Otago under-65kg team for the prestigious South Island annual weight-grade event at Lincoln near Christchurch. Otago not only won the final against Canterbury Country, but the referee’s fair play award. The team members included the only girl player, Isla Pringle, of Clutha Valley, along with Reon Lowery of Owaka, Josh Stuff of Taeri, and Jack Clement, Charlie Baker and James Te Paira, all from Dunedin. Otago Rugby Football Union development manager Jason Macdonald said many of the region’s top representative players began their careers in the under-48kg and under-65kg weight grades to ‘‘get in the system’’. Otago’s under-48kg team was runner-up in the final against Nelson Bays at Lincoln, and also won the Fair Play award for its grade, with Central Otago well represented by Brayden Laing, who plays for Clyde Earnscleugh, Mark McCormack (Maniototo), Cam Parnell (Arrowtown), Duncan Dykes (Alexandra), Max Duncan – who is a year 8 at Roxburgh Area School, but played his rugby season for the Dunstan High School under-14 team, and Joseph Wilson and Finlay Nolet (Upper Clutha). Nolet also made the under-48kg South Island team.
Rising force: Midge van Boxtel of Central Otago was called into the Otago Country U14 rugby side for the Representative Rugby Tournament against Canterbury at Waikiwi grounds in Invercargill. Although Otago Country lost all three matches, van Boxtel said it was a buzz to play at such a big competition.