Statistically, in terms of the number of championships won, the decade from 2000-2009 was the least successful era in First XV rugby at Auckland Grammar School. Still the First XV managed to win over seventy five percent of their games and add three 1A titles to their already long list of achievement. When one considers that zoning laws changed and the Auckland competition is arguably tougher than it’s ever been, Grammar has remained one of the per-eminent teams in New Zealand.
Three Auckland Final Wins
2002: v King’s College – Won: 26-19
AGS Coach Grant Hansen Before 2002 Final: “Bring the dog out, produce the required hunger and desire on the day it really counts, take no prisoners and make sure you don’t come second in the one-on-one confrontations.”
David Leggat: New Zealand Herald, On 2002 1A Final: “Both teams threw buckets of enthusiasm, desire and plenty of skill into a robust, willing contest and King’s made sure Grammar had to work for their triumph.”
Earlier in the season, King’s had beaten Grammar, 18-17 after Jamie Helleur had missed a penalty in front of the posts which would have won Grammar the game. The two arch-rivals meet again in the 1A final and this time Grammar prevailed in an epic contest. Down 19-17 at halftime, the hero was Jamie Helleur whose goal kicking made the difference. Hellur kicked four penalties and two conversions of tries by flankers Tai Tuifua and Steven Roskruge, the latter after a break by Helleur, to win the Grammar the 1A title for the first time since 1999. The game was full of incident as David Leggat reported:
“When Jamie Helleur, tried to charge past Kings prop Jeremiah Fatialofa – son of the redoubtable Peter, of Auckland and Samoan front-row fame, and, like Dad, built like a small ship – he went down like he’d been shot… Both sides butchered gilt-edged try-scoring chances. Grammar wing Tony Woods spilled the ball forward as he dived for the line early in the second half. At the death, there was a scrum in front of the Grammar posts, and a drive to the line before King’s hands lost the ball forward.”
For King’s, halfback Kenzo Pannell kicked four penalties and converted lock Ioane Tupou’s try. Eleven players in the game represented the Auckland Secondary Schools team. Jamie Helleur went onto play for Auckland.
2004: v Mount Albert Grammar School – Won: 15-9
Played at Eden Park, in front of an estimated 7000 spectators, Auckland Grammar School boasted a dominant team in 2004 that scored 115 tries in 21 games. Ironically none were scored in the final. However with elusive attack and solid defence from both teams the game was a great spectacle. The goal-kicking of future Northland and Highlanders representative, Daniel Bowden was the difference. Bowden kicked five penalties, compared with Sione Kite’s three for Mount Albert, as Auckland Grammar celebrated their second championship in three years.
2006: v King’s College – Won: 16-3
Played at Eden Park, Grammar came from behind to beat their traditional foes. Playing into the wind, Grammar trailed 0-3 at halftime after William Brittain had kicked a penalty for King’s. In the second half Grammar dominated as the New Zealand Herald reported:
“Following a period of sustained pressure with Jack Turley and Shawn Stewart winning good lineout ball and Dan Pryor prominent in securing quick second-phase ball, man of the match Dave Thomas scored the only try. Ash Moeke added the extras and also kicked two penalties and a drop goal to complete the victory and allow captain (Future All Black) Winston Stanley to collect the coveted trophy from the defending champions.”
Acknowledgments: New Zealand Herald, Auckland Grammar Chronicle, Brendan Boyce.