Rodrigues set to roar in Final

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

Photo courtesy of Wareham Sports Media

 

Aidan Rodrigues has played 80 matches for the Wellington College First XI. It’s believed his tally of matches is a school record. George Bertos (father of All White, Leo) was a regular First XI player in each of his five years at the College. However, it is uncertain how many matches he totalled as there were fewer games played in his era.

Rodrigues debuted in 2018 as a wide-eyed Year 10 and his last appearance will be Saturday’s Trevor Rigby Cup final against two-time reigning champions Scots College.

“I was fine at the start of lockdown but when it dragged on I was eager for football. I guess the break could have hindered our season by stopping momentum, but the boys have been working on their fitness and are ready to empty the tank,” Rodrigues said.

The finalists have played three times this season. The most recent encounter was won 5-3 by the Scots on Saturday, but Rodrigues didn’t play. The first game was drawn 3-3 with Wellington allowing a lead to slip following a red card. The most noteworthy result from a Wellington perspective was on July 31 when they prevailed 2-1.

“Charlie Bachelor scored in the first couple of minutes which was unfortunate. We played a different formation from the first game to keep possession away from Scots. Gradually they started to fatigue and we took a couple of chances to get the win, our first win in ages against them.”

Wellington played a 4-3-3 formation which typically allows at least sevens players to attack, as the wide forwards squeeze the defence, the full-backs come up behind them and two of the central midfielders push forward. A dramatic Max Falconer free kick and Cooper Duggan strike were the source of Wellington’s goals.

Putting the ball in the back of the net hasn’t been an issue for Welligton this season. In ten Trevor Rigby Cup matches they have scored 44 goals – 11 more than Scots.

Rodrigues has scored a dozen goals in his career but has been the architect of countless.

“I help out on attack and defense but I’m stronger on attack. I’m good at reading the play and will try to find opportunities for others before myself.”

Wellington’s strike force of Zander Edwards and Cooper Duggan have been prolific. Edwards scored four times in a staggering 10-0 win against St Pats Town alone, Duggan has 55 goals in 79 games at the college. Combined the pair have scored 19 goals between them this season. The last Wellington College player to win the Golden Boot was Christian Martin, who scored 12 goals in 2015. Edwards is tied with Scots College Alden Suri for the 2021 prize with eleven goals.

“We knew we had a strong team at the start of the season. We’ve got a lot of Year 13’s and were clinical in the pre-season winning all our games. We’ve beaten every team in the league which gives us a lot of belief,” Rodrigues surmised.

“It’s hard to pick a standout out match but personally my 75th game against Wairarapa College was pretty special. I had no idea I’d played so many games. We went up the night before and had a memorable bonding session where I was acknowledged. We got the win which was awesome.”

Wellington’s chemistry is evident in the leadership of the team.

“I try to be loud and positive, bring the energy all the time which is the best thing you can do. I’m lucky to have good support from Daniel Fuller and Levi Appleton. They play at the back and lead from there while I try to motivate up front.

“Our coach Stu Widdowson does everything for the team. He’s always the first to arrive and the last to leave. He’s really brought this group together and brought out the best in us. The final will be his 100th game.”

Wellington are the most frequent winners of the Trevor Rigby trophy with 18 titles stretching back to 1980. However, the last time Wellington was in the final was in 2014 when they were beaten in extra time by Hutt Valley High School. A goal scored by the rambunctious Aaron McDonald was the heartbreaking difference.

Football at Wellington College is on a roll. Rodrigues was a member of the futsal squad that were runners up at the Nationals having won the title in 2018. Old boys Tor Davenport Petersen and devilish smiling DJ Lukas Halikias were a part of the Wellington Olympic team that won the Central League with an impressive record of 14 wins in 17 matches. The biggest highlight however was 19-year old forward Matthew Garbett signing for Serie A club Torino. The Olympian became the first Kiwi to play in the Italian Premier League. Rodrigues paid tribute.

“Wellington College is proud of Matthew. It’s inspiring to know a guy you went to school with can achieve such a high level.”

Hamish Wareham is a College football guru. He’s predicting a tight contest but believes if Rodrigues reaches his best Wellington will be hard to beat.

“I saw him in a pre-season game as a junior and went Wow, here’s a player. Since bursting into the Trevor Rigby Cup with more force than an Island Bay southerly, Aidan has been one of the best players in the league. Winning a championship would be a fitting way to end his tenure.”

 

The final will be livestreamed via the CSW Facebook page.