Schoolboy rugby was on show at the inaugural Pack the Park rugby event last week when the Mid Canterbury Combined (MCC) first XV took on the Selwyn Schools Combined first XV at Ashburton College.
MCC lost 19-26 but it was a cracker of a game, marred only by after-match reports of sideline abuse from a spectator being sought for caution by officials.
The event was the brainchild of Mid Canterbury Combined coach Shane Enright and aimed to be the equivalent of traditional inter-school matches held in other areas.
It also had the potential to grow year-on-year.
‘‘We are still losing kids to bigger schools. We want to make this something special where parents (and) kids don’t want to go away to bigger schools (to play).
‘‘The idea was to get it out to the public and just sort of showcase first XV rugby.’’
It would show schoolboy rugby in Mid Canterbury and give young fellows in under 14s, 15s and 16s an idea of the pathway in rugby, he said.
MCC first XV is made up of players from Ashburton College, Mount Hutt and Ashburton Christian schools, and Selwyn Combined first XV of players from Lincoln, Rolleston, Darfield and Ellesmere high schools.
In the game MCC got first points on the table and put on a deserving showcase event with tit-for-tat scoring.
The game itself was well controlled by referee Kalifa Faalogo, and highlighted some top performances by two evenly matched teams; SSC and MCC sit 11th and 12th, respectively, on the Miles Toyota Championship table.
Both teams performed rousing haka prior to the game and stirred players to action for a full-on 80-minutes of play.
In the curtain raiser match Ashburton College Under 15 convincingly beat Mount Hutt College Under 15 by 50-15.