THE Southland Boys’ High School first 15 rugby team has started the season with a 2-2 record, following an off-season where it could have been excused for feeling a little unwanted.
The Southland Boys’ team plays in the Otago Rugby Union’s Colts competition and has started 2018 with two wins, over Taieri and Alhambra-Union, and two losses, against Dunedin and Southern.
Otago Boys’ High School previously played in the Dunedin club competition, but this year has opted to line up in the Otago-wide schools’ competition.
With no invite offered to SBHS to join the Otago schools’ competition, it has remained playing against older opposition in the Dunedin Colts grade.
Some Dunedin clubs raised concerns in the off-season why a Southland team should be allowed to play in an Otago competition. However, other clubs fought to keep it in the competition.
Its inclusion meant an eight-team competition could be played rather than creating a bye with a seven-team grade.
SBHS first 15 coach Jason Dermody conceded the options were limited in terms of finding a suitable competition to play in.
The extra travel and not getting to play week in, week out against school-age teams was not ideal, Dermody said.
However, there is no colts grade in Southland. If the SBHS first 15 was to line up in the Southland under-18 competition, Dermody felt it would create a situation where they could play poorly and still win by big margins, which would not be great for player development.
For the moment, Dermody said playing Colts rugby in Dunedin was the best fit and he was pleased with what he had seen from the team through the first four games this season.
It has close to a 50-50 split between returning players and new players this year.
Openside flanker Sean Withy is the captain and he has impressed through the first four games of the season.
Hooker Jacob Payne is another promising player, as are locks Harry Taylor and Aleki Saili. Saili is the younger brother of Black Fern Alena Saili.
Halfback Tim Price is another key figure.
Dermody is again coaching the first 15 alongside long-serving coach Peter Skelt.
Skelt had applied for the Stags’ coaching job during the off-season and made it down to a shortlist of two before former All Black prop Dave Hewett was appointed.