Moascar Cup rugby returns to Wellington

ANDY LESLIE had just become the All Black captain and Norman Kirk was Prime Minister the last time a Moascar Cup match was held in Wellington.

The clash between holders Scots College and St Pat’s Town on Saturday, in the opening round of premier one, will be the first challenge to be played in Wellington since 1974, when St Pat’s Silverstream lost the cup to New Plymouth Boys’.

It took 40 years for the trophy to return, when Scots drew with Hamilton Boys’ High in the national first XV final last August.

Scots had won the cup by beating Auckland Grammar 39-22 in the national semifinal but it would have been a short tenure if they had lost the final, two days later.

The Moascar Cup is often referred to as the Ranfurly Shield of secondary schools rugby and has a history going back to 1920 but was not a genuine national competition between 1927 and 1971.

Napier Boys revived the competition by successfully challenging in 1972, after it had been held by various schools in the Northland and Counties regions for 20 years.

Wellington College was the last of five cup holders in 1972, winning the trophy by beating Wanganui Collegiate in the quad final.

A powerful Silverstream XV, who lost just one match that year, beat Wellington College in 1973 and held off four challengers before losing the cup.

Twenty-eight different schools held the trophy before it returned to Wellington.

Remarkably, the first Moascar Cup matched played in Wellington, in June 1920, was also between Scots and St Pat’s Town, as part of the qualifying rounds, with Town winning 29-0.

However, this weekend’s match, which will be televised on the Sky rugby channel, will be the first time Town have challenged for the Moascar.

The Town first XV face a big week, with a traditional against St John’s College, from Hastings, today, the Moascar match on Saturday and the Wellington College traditional today week.

 It’s a tough schedule and Town will have some idea of where they are in the premier one pecking order within the first five days.

Town have retained the bulk of their 2014 squad but their backline has suffered through significant injuries to halfback Zac Donaldson, second five-eighth Korvarn Togiatama, outside back Billy Proctor and wing Willie Sauea.

Head boy Thomas Noble-Campbell has taken over the halfback duties with Paul Bickle at first five-eighth and it is hoped that dynamic fullback Siosaia Paese will be back at full fitness, following an ankle injury. “He [Paese] is a lightning bolt and anything can happen,” Town coach Glenn Donaldson said.

 The Town forwards performed well in the narrow loss against Napier Boys and open side flanker Jack Nelson-Murray has returned after a lengthy injury layoff. Town have a good set of loose forwards, with Hannon Brighouse, Peteli Poasa and Kevin Fauatea also in the mix.

The forwards have also benefited from regular cross-fit training sessions. “We have two sessions a week and it has certainly helped,” Donaldson said.

Scots were probably relieved not to play last weekend, following the cancellation of the first XV festival games, after the squad had six games in eight days in Japan.

“I was pretty happy with their form in Japan,” Scots coach Filo Tiatia said. “We have had nine pre-season games and that has been enough to know where we are at and the boys are looking forward to defending the cup.”

Scots cannot expect to match last year’s results but will be tough rivals in the Wellington competition again.

 Alex Fidow, Jarimar Schuster and Henry Mexted will lead the pack and the Umaga-Jensen twins and Connor Garden-Bachop are proven gamebreakers in the backline.

Tawa and Wairarapa College are the newcomers to premier one. Wairarapa College were not eligible previously while Tawa have not been in premier one for decades.

Wairarapa, who play Rongotai on Saturday, have to travel over the Rimutaka hill for their first three games while Tawa will have a testing introduction when meeting Silverstream.

 Silverstream still had a game last weekend, travelling to Palmerston North, where they had a 22-22 draw with Napier Boys.

 Wellington College will meet Hutt International, who retained their premier one place by beating Porirua 13-7 last weekend.

PREMIER ONE SQUADS

Hutt International

Jesse McCall, Angus Edge, Daniel Wilson, Matthew Wilkes, Tom Lynn, Caleb Tashkoff, Josh Tanner, Sean Leach, Mason Henry, Toby Hall, Rielly Edwards, Luke Archibald, Cameron Bacon, James Cox, Callum Dunne, Liam Archibald, Ben Power, Jack Whiteman, Hayden Griffiths.

Rongotai College

Karl Brownlie, Eimeo Kirk, DJ Taoipu, Nathanu Smith, Malachai Nasa-Knox, Denny To’o, Caleb Toleafoa, Tobias Makisi, Ray Pouvalu, Hinckley Siaosi, Ezra Seiuli, Elijah Nafatali, Norman Fatialofa, Esikeli Komaisavai, Tua Tusa, Liam Faialaga, Matiu William Samuel, Anapapa Siale, Reuben Va’a, Ngatama Marurai.

St Pat’s Silverstream

Albert Polu, Chris Aumua, Kienan De La Rambelje, Aisea Mafile’o, Todd Svenson, Callum Harkin, Albert Latailakepa, Jack Wright, Jack Svenson, Keegan Radovich, Asafo Aumua, Johsua Brown, Ryan Fraser, Losi Filipo, Tarquinn Alatipi, Herwini Ammunson, Tone Fauolo, Ivan Fepuleai, Daniel Fiso, Jarrod Harawira, Keaton Te Amo, Sione Uvea.

St Pat’s Town

Ethan Meredith, Ben Aumua-Peseta, Meinrad Fitisemanu, Gus Stone, Billy Proctor, Kevin Fauatea, Peteli Poasa, Thomas Brazil, Zac Donaldson, Paul Bickle, Connor Fitzsimons, Grayson Whitman, Teichmann Collins, Siosaia Paese, Willie Schutz, Penieli Poasa, Xavier Numia, Eamonn Carr, Hannon Brighouse, John Tuia, Jack Nelson-Murray, Luke Georgeson, William Sauea, Thomas Noble-Campbell.

Scots College

Moala Katoa, Lotonuu Haueia, Alex Fidow, George Jacobs, Christian Lee, Henry Mexted, Jarimar Schuster, Daniel Brown, Harry Saker, Ezra Dunlop, Jack Loader, Ollie Whiteman, Jack Royal, Josh Wilson, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Connor Garden-Bachop, Malo Manuao, Solo Sovea, Joe Boswell, Alec Cannons.

Tawa College

Jonsey Elekana-tuuga, George Bloomfield, Elijah Brooking, Kaitu Ioane, Juinior Kuresa, Tayne Lockwood, Lumafale Lualua, Bradley Mant, Luke Mcgill, Broadus Melvin, Shekinah Neru, Adam Preston, Kyle Preston, Tyler Smith, Ben Stephens, Benjamin Stowers, Liam Taufale, Tyran Te Paa, Christian Ulberg, Folau Vea, Hawaiki Wallace, Matai Wetere, Daniel Wiggins, Kainoa Wimutu.

Wairarapa College

Caine Osborne, Taine Hintz, Jordon Galyer, Cullum Pritchard, Tua Levi, Lochie Macrae, Jacob Morison, Joe Roberts, Croydon Hall, Tama Hurihanganui, Bruce Kauika-Petersen, Cameron Ravenwood, Guy Percy, Tuakana Riwai-Couch, Joshua Pepperall, Jack Harley, Jonas Tamihana, Joseph Gordon, Chester Rothery, Keegan Taplin, Brad Griffith, Levi Harmon.

Wellington College

Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Utu Ah Kuoi, Qualen Asi, Adam Blackwell, Connor Fuli, Qori Gucake, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Jimmy Hewitt, Taisson Lealaisalanoa, Pio Lupo, Jakob Morgan-Rranui, Sitiveni Paongo, Oliver Paotonu, James Patrick, Reece Plumtree, Tana Salzmann, Adrian Seumanufagai, Toka Sopoaga, Will Van Bohemen, Stone Warren-Robinson, Callum Watts-Pointer, Jayden Williams.