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Ready for action . . . George Brown (middle) is flanked by Liam Parker (left) and T.J. Lensley before kick-off against Waitaki Boys' High School. PHOTO: SARAH MULDER

by Chris Tobin

Last week’s rugby first XV clash between Timaru Boys’ High School and the Waitaki First XV was special on several counts.

It was the 150th time the first XVs had played each other, and it was the 136th continuous time they had met in their annual fixture. The event is the oldest non-stop interschool fixture in New Zealand and dates back to the 1880s.

On a personal level, it was an important match for TBHS captain George Brown also.

Bright note . . . Timaru Boys’ High School First XV captain George Brown ended his time in the team with a victory over Waitaki Boys’ High School to retain the S.M. O’Neill Shield. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

The 17-year-old open side flanker played his 50th and last big match for the school and received a special white cap to mark this feat, one of only a few that have been awarded.

“It’s always special playing this game, we talked about it and everyone wanted to put in the effort,” he said.

It was a big effort, too, as Timaru inflicted a heavy defeat on the Waitaki team on their home ground, 61-20.

It provided Brown with a hat-trick of wins in the annual fixture. He could still remember the previous scores – 85-12 in 2017 and a closer result, 12-0, last year.

“We have won it four years straight now.”

After trailing in the win-loss record against Waitaki, Timaru is now believed to have edged ahead.

Looking back on his time in the first XV, Brown said the highlight was playing Christchurch Boys’ High School in the final of the 2017 UC Championship.

Led by NZ schools’ representative Cullen Grace, the team went down to Christchurch Boys’ High School in Christchurch 18-10 after beating Christ’s College 24-10 in the semifinal.

Back view . . . George Brown wearing his special cap. PHOTO: SARAH MULDER

“It’s cool playing all the other schools, testing yourself against the bigger schools,” Brown said.

“Playing Christchurch Boys’ was always a big one but we never beat them. It was one I’d have loved to win.”

It has been a good season for Brown.

In July, he captained the Crusaders Knights against the Highlanders under-18 team in Timaru.

“It was better than what I thought it would be; it was way faster and way more physical.”

With his school days drawing to a close, Brown intended to take up a plumbing apprenticeship next year but was keen to advance his rugby career.

Dunedin and Christchurch clubs are keen to take him on.

“I’m still weighing up my options and seeing what will suit me best.”