Rakaumanga compete in Condor Sevens

By James Perry

They are better known as a rugby league school, but for the past two days Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga have been giving rugby union a go, playing in the 2018 U15 National Secondary School Condor Sevens tournament in Tāmaki Makaurau.

When Auckland's Rangitoto College pulled out of the tournament late last week Huntly's Rakaumanga accepted the challenge of filling the gap.

Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga prepare for a match at the Condor 7s. Photo/File.

With the majority of the students having a predominately league background a quick adjustment was required for them.  Kono-Paapita Pene-Gestro, 14, says one of the most obvious differences is having to keep moving and following the ball rather than waiting back on the line. 

The late notice of their inclusion meant the coaching staff only had four days to prepare the team.  Te Umuariki Heremia-Tukere, 14, who plays rugby league for Turangawaewae, says the teachers tried their best to teach them the rules of the game in four days.  One problem area they found, he says, was the ruck. 

Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga practicing a move. Photo/File

Adding further complications to the team's preparation was the fact that some still had school work to complete, especially exams.  Heremia-Tukere said there were a few students who were sitting their year 11 exams and had to quickly make the trip to Auckland's Sacred Heart College in their uniform, undertaking a quick costume change to appear on the field in their football gear.

Even though they didn't have much success this year, the boys are hoping to return again next year and Heremia-Tukere is encouraging other Wharekura around the country to take up the challenge- being Māori is half the fun.