Tagged to do best to beat the Aussies

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Play­ers may not get to ‘‘smash’’ each other as much as they like, but tag rugby is on the up in Porirua, with a group of lo­cal boys rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand in a trans-tas­man cham­pi­onship next month.

Five Porirua col­lege stu­dents will travel to Auck­land on April 4 to rep­re­sent New Zealand along­side 11 other play­ers cho­sen as the cream of the crop in their un­der-18 di­vi­sion. They will play five games against Australia over four days in what Bishop Viard stu­dent Jay­den Luapo, 17, de­scribes as ‘‘a lit­tle State of Ori­gin’’.

The boys were se­lected while rep­re­sent­ing Welling­ton at a two­day na­tional tour­na­ment in Auck­land in mid-fe­bru­ary. Welling­ton came third, win­ning all but two games.

Porirua boys mak­ing the na­tional team were Raysharn Ed­monds-lama, Paie Ngaroi, Re­nouf To’omaga, Paul Ul­berg and Luapo.

The five are the only rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Welling­ton re­gion on the New Zealand team, a fact ow­ing to the game’s pop­u­lar­ity in Porirua, ac­cord­ing to the boys.

‘‘Flag’s not a big thing in town,’’ Raysharn Ed­monds- Lama, 16, says.

De­spite at­tend­ing dif­fer­ent high schools, the play­ers know each other well from years play­ing in a league based in Ti­tahi Bay, and are from op­pos­ing teams Risk and Starz.

They are look­ing for spon­sor­ship to be able to at­tend the tour­na­ment, and es­ti­mate they will need be­tween $3000 and $4000 for accommodation and travel to the event.

The boys use ‘‘flag’’ rugby as a way to keep up their touch rugby train­ing dur­ing the sum­mer sea­son.

It’s fun, but would be bet­ter if play­ers could smash each other as in the full-con­tact touch, Luapo says.

To spon­sor the team con­tact par­ent Emma Akavi on 235 8707.

Flagged for big­ger things: Five Porirua tag rugby play­ers have been cho­sen to rep­re­sent New Zealand in a four-day bat­tle against Australia in April. From left, Raysharn Ed­monds-lama, Paie Ngaroi, Jay­den Luapo, Re­nouf To’omaga and Paul Ul­berg.

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