Shield champions after nearly 40 years
The Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup team aren’t the only rugby players in the region celebrating breaking a drought - a primary school has won a shield back for the first time in more that 30 years.
Despite the 36-year wait, a combined Matapu¯ -Eltham rugby team is happy to have won the McLeod Taranaki Rugby Union Shield.
The feeling was mutual for the Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup team who won a match at Naper’s McLean Park for the first time in 44 years.
Matapu¯ School last won the McLeod Shield in 1981. They hadn’t entered the competition for a few years and decided to amalgamate with Eltham Primary School to make up numbers and enter together.
The team’s coaches Brendon Hall and Tipuna Mita said they were very happy with the result and so were the players.
‘‘They were pumped,’’ Hall said.
‘‘You always have faith in them.’’
‘‘We actually were quite confident because the first game we won 81-14 I think,’’ he said.
‘‘So we thought ‘we think we’ve got the team to do it’.’’
The team played and lost against Kaimata earlier in the competition. They then came face to face with them in a ‘‘very tight’’ final.
‘‘That’s what made it quite exciting,’’ Mita said.
‘‘We beat them 49-31 in the last five minutes.’’
Hall said the win was great for the boys.
‘‘A lot of them are leaving this year, off to high school, so they got one last turn to have a go at it,’’ he said.
The competition goes for a couple of months and saw nine Taranaki country schools go against each other.
The shield is almost 100 years old - the first winner appeared to be Kapuni in 1920. Matapu¯ was scattered all over the shield from previous wins.
Mita said he even remembered playing for the shield when he was at school.
‘‘I was at a different school and we never won it,’’ he said.
The winning team was made up of Matapu¯ and Eltham’s great rugby players: Cody Hall, Kyedon Brewer, Tyler Bennetts, Lochlan Prestidge, Tremaine Brewer, Kyle Buckthought, Jorvyn Katene, Carlos Barry, Clay Mita, Tyler Nichols, Kurt McFaul, Te Raina Cassidy, Sebastian Lambert, CJ McMinn.
The Matapu¯ Eltham primary school team brought home the McLeod Shield for the first time in over three decades.