Heretaunga College Win Inaugural AWD Rippa Rugby Tournament

The inaugural Athletes With a Disability (AWD) Rippa Rugby Regional Tournament was held at Mana College on Wednesday.

Teams from five schools played a series of four 20-minute games in a round-robin format.

Participation was paramount, but Heretaunga College won all their games and were crowned Wellington’s first AWD Rippa Rugby champion school.

Heretaunga fielded a mixed team of boys and girls, all with intellectual disabilities and a couple who are deaf as well.

Heretaunga’s team co-ordinator and the school’s Learning Centre manager Kathy Yates said it was a new experience for all the players and they enjoyed it.

“None of them had played Rippa Rugby before. We had a brief practice and run through the rules the day before,” said Yates. “They were so exhausted afterwards – they were falling asleep in the van on the way back.”

College Sport Wellington Executive Director Bryan Dickinson said it was a successful day “I was really glad to see so many happy and students by the end.  It was also great that the teams were all relatively even, which made for some very close games.”

The other four schools to participate on Wednesday were Mana College (who came second with three wins from four), Newlands College, Wainuiomata High School and Hutt Valley High School.

Winning was a bonus for the Heretaunga students, said Yates. “They just went out and had fun, this whole sports disability programme is so good for them. It is not just playing the sports, but also socialising with other people and learning about sportsmanship, taking turns and supporting each other, all these things are really important for the kids and it is the thing that the parents of our kids want the most.”

They all play other sports. “We have been doing the whole programme since it started and we are looking forward to participating in all the sports that are coming up.”

Heretaunga won the CSW AWD Teeball competition recently as well. “They had never played that either before until they got out there, so it is a big buzz for the students trying all these new things.”

The AWD Sports Programme is backed by the Wellington Community Trust, whose support enables over 300 to participate every year.  Sports coming up include futsal early in the second term, then cross country, ten pin bowling, the road race, basketball (over four weeks), indoor bowls, the ‘have a go day’ (where they get to have a go at everything), swimming, floorball and then tee-ball and athletics again early next year.

“In athletics, three of our students made the regionals including brother and sister Alex and Nathanial Flutey-Rowe who were both in the rippa rugby team, and Marina Vibert,  who couldn’t go to the rugby because she injured her knee.”

There are 20 students in Heretaunga College’s Learning Centre. “All these students are put in mainstream classes with their peers with teacher aides, but I work with the teacher aides and modify their learning to their level. So they are learning the same thing as the other kids but at a level they can understand.”

The Heretaunga students that competed in the CSW ADD Rippa Rugby Tournament were:

Heath Barcham

Nathaniel Flutey-Rowe

Alex Flutey-Rowe

Mieke Roos

Jan Bonthuys

Tyrone Tala

Nisi Fautaua

Tom Jenkins

Kaleb Carter