Melbourne Rebels U14 & U16 tour NZ - Feature

The Melbourne Rebels U14 and U16 teams have made the trip to NZ to play their die-hard rugby peers over here.

It's the first time in New Zealand for many of the young Melbourne Rebels players and their tour kicked off to a great start being greeted to a formal welcome onto Tahuwhakatiki Marae in Tauranga.

With 80% of the players in the two teams being made up of Pacific Islanders and Māori, this is the first time visiting a marae for most of them.

U14 player Mosese Tuipulotu says, “The experience is great, I've never been to the marae but it looks really good and I'll get to know about the culture in NZ and I'm enjoying that so far".

The team's Cultural Advisor, Jeremy Nikora, says the cultural experience here in NZ has been beneficial for the boys and this is one of the main reasons he was excited about the trip home.

Jeremy has been a youth worker in Melbourne for many years and he's using rugby as the tool to keep the boys on the right path and hopefully into a professional rugby career.

It has been a heavily scheduled tour for the two teams and management.

The teams have already played three games which started in Auckland against East Tamaki and Kings College before moving down to Tauranga for a game against BOP, and finishing off with their fourth game to end their tour in Hamilton last night against Waikato.

While only time will tell whether we see some of these players wearing the Wallabies jersey or an All Blacks one in years to come, the boys will certainly remember this trip fondly as the start of their rugby career.