Ripper pupil turnout for Rippa rugby

Pass and move . . . Getting in some practice ahead of their next match are Bluestone School pupils (from left) Chelsee Van Kleef, 11, Brody Farnsworth, 12, and Tiami Berryman-Toa, 12. PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

Ashbury Park was the scene of another ripper day of rugby action as 44 South Canterbury primary school teams recently battled for a spot in the Subway Cup regional final.

The annual Rippa rugby event included a year 7 and 8 grade for the first time this year as previous iterations had only a year 5 and 6 grade.

South Canterbury Rugby game development manager Caro Rhodes was blown away by the number teams and pupils taking part.

‘‘We’ve never had this many teams to manage and as we are finding out, we might need to split the days next year.

‘‘I think the plan would be to do each year-group grade on different days but [in] saying that it’s really exiting and it’s great to see Rippa is proving to be a popular sport for our kids here.

‘‘I calculated it and we probably had about 500 kids here plus all the volunteers and parents.’’

Team spirit . . . St Joseph’s School Temuka pupils (back from left) Myah Hanifin, 12, MJ Bravo, 12, Saskia Malama, 11, Coen Fitzgerald, 12, Caelyn Nimo, 11, Alisha Steer, 12, Indy Hopkinson, 11, (front from left) Ryder Wilson, 11, Ryder Johnson, 11, and Hunter Duggan, 12, enjoy a day of rugby at Ashbury Park.

She said the record attendance was not a surprise.

‘‘Danielle [Tippett] has been doing an amazing job in the schools. She’s been into most of them and has done a really great job creating that interest.’’

Schools fielded teams of 10 players comprised of boys and girls.

They competed in their pools in a round-robin format before going on to semis and finals. Rhodes said the games would get quite competitive.

‘‘It all starts off quite low key but as we get closer to the semis and finals the mood definitely changes.

‘‘The sidelines get a bit more intense but everyone does realise it’s just a fun competition and a chance for the kids to have a run around.

‘‘That’s what it really is about.

‘‘I do think sometimes people get a bit caught up on the outcome and who wins but it’s all just about being active and enjoying playing sport.’’

Bluestone School teacher Ross Godwin said tournaments like this were a great way to teach important lessons outside of the classroom.

‘‘You do your subjects at school like maths and English which, of course, are important, but in sporting events like this you learn to play as a team, to work together and then there is sportsmanship and things like that which I think is really important in the wider world.

‘‘I know the kids just absolutely love it.’’

Leading the way . . . Bluestone School teacher Ross Godwin leads his team in a post-match three cheers.

Four teams from each year grade qualified for the regional finals where they would go up against four teams from Mid Canterbury and four from North Otago. Finals were scheduled to be held this week.

In the year 5 and 6 grade, St Jo’s Saints, Gleniti Green, Highfield Green and the Barton Bears qualified and were to take part in the regional finals at Ashbury Park.

In the year 7 and 8 grade, Point White, Barton Broncos, Gleniti Red and Sacred Heart White qualified and were to compete at Centennial Park in Oamaru.