School XV claim Te Kani Shield
Belief is helping Te Puke High School’s First XV reach heights never before seen at the school.
The school’s top rugby side has won the Baywide secondary school challenge trophy — the Te Kani Shield — for the first time ever.
The first phase of the season saw the side win the Toi Ohomai Baywide Secondary Schools second division final and with it promotion to division 1 after 12 seasons of trying.
Their first game in the top flight was against shield holders Trident High School from Whakatane with the game being won with a late penalty kicked by Lester Olive.
Coach Jackson ReubenSwinton says the importance of last Saturday’s win wasn’t only in taking the shield but also in respect of the step up to division 1. “Winning that first game was quite important for them because what it showed them was they are more than capable of playing at that level,” he says.
He has focused on improving the players’ confidence.
“They didn’t think they were good enough to be there, but I’ve managed to get that out of them.”
He says his focus has always been on the positive.
“I’ve put some tight structures [in place] and we are creating a team environment which only builds players — we don’t concentrate on any negatives at all. Anything that needs to be talked about is a ‘work-on’.”
Te Puke’s first half points came from a converted try to Te Riiti Karaka Clarke and a penalty Jack Hollinshead.
Full back Olive scored an intercept try that was converted by Hollinshead to level the scores at 17-17 before Olive struck the winning penalty goal.
A stand out game by winger Wiremu Heyblom saw him awarded the player of the day.
“Trident are a very strong side whom has been in the Bay of Plenty Secondary Schools 1st XV first division for some time now really put Te Puke 1st XV under a lot of pressure,” says Reuben-Swinton.
Captain Zac Proctor says it was a proud moment to be handed the shield after Saturday’s game and says it will provide extra motivation to the team in the first defence at home to Rotorua High School Barbarians on Saturday at noon.
The Te Kani Shield was gifted by Paora Te Kani’s family after he died in battle in Tunisia in 1943.
Since then it has been played for between Bay of Plenty secondary schools. It is similar to the Ranfurly Shield, although contested at home and away matches.
The challenger must win the match to win the shield. The shield has long been in the grips of Rotorua Boys’ High School and Tauranga Boys’ College.
In 2013 Rotorua Boys decided to give it to their 2nd XV to defend, which they did successfully.
The shield is on the line each time the holders play.
Te Puke High School First XV vice captain Jack Hollinshead (left) and captain Zac Proctor with the Te Kani Shield.