Breakthrough! 2004 Christchurch Boys’ High School 1st XV


In 1999 Christchurch Boys’ High School won 22 games in a row and made the National Top 4 final against Kelston Boys High School, narrowly losing, 18-21. From 2001-2003 Christchurch were Press Cup champions, losing just one match in three years in the competition. By 2004, with three New Zealand Secondary Schools players in their side, Tim Bateman, Baydon Phillips and Jonathan Direen, it was obvious Christchurch had a serious shot at national glory.

 

The Team

Head Coaches: Dave Ralston and Eddie Murphy

Captain:  Baydon Phillips

Players: Mitchell Alcock, Tim Bateman, Kieran Black, Alex Dalzell, Jonathan Direen, Reuben Fitzgerald, Owen Franks, Matthew Hunter, Shaun McClintock, Kris McKechnie, Liukanasi Manu, Hoani Matenga, Jono Naoupu, Kosei Ono, Sam Phanpho, Mason Pomare, Daniel Shin, Colin Slade, Chris Small, Brendon Stewart, Nick Thomson.

 

The Numbers

Played: 19

Won: 18

Drawn: 1

Points For: 821

Points Against: 168

Average Score: 43-9

Top Try Scorer: Chris Small, 25.

 

The Results

  • St Bede’s College, 26-19
  • Waimea College, 62-0
  • Timaru Boys’ High School, 64-3
  • Ashburton College, 113-0
  • Nelson College, 28-8
  • Shirley Boys’ High School, 41-14
  • Marlborough Boys’ College, 38-5
  • West Coast Schools, 88-0
  • Wellington College, 15-13
  • Christ’s College 73-0
  • St Andrew’s College, 51-13
  • Aranui High School, 14-12
  • Otago Boys’ High School, 17-7
  • Shirley Boys’ High School, 23-0
  • Nelson College, 43-16
  • Nelson College, 44-15
  • Southland Boys’ High School, 38-7 (T)
  • Hastings Boys’ High School, 21-14*
  • Wesley College, 22-22*
Note: Denotes Moascar Cup Match (T) = Trustbank Cup fixture.

 

A Change In Culture

Richard Taylor is a long time physical education teacher at Christchurch Boys’ High School. He coached the First XV from 1998-2001 initially and resumed again in 2006, continuing until 2008. Dave Ralston coached the First XV from 2002-2005 and then again from 2008-2010. Both men were key figures in creating Christchurch’s culture of success

Taylor On Changes In Attitude: “All the systems in the nineties were fairly causal. We trained twice a week and most of the guys played a summer sport, which is tough to do nowadays. Dan Carter, for instance, was in the First XI as well as the First XV. That changed in the late nineties. We started summer training, increased the number of winter trainings to three of four a week and basically changed the way we approached the game.”
Ralston On Attitude: “Improving skills and game sense, in other words the ability of the players to think on their feet, were key parts of our success. But we also wanted the guys to be good people. That ethos of “train hard, play hard and behave in the classroom” really resonated with the boys in this time.”
Taylor On Training Changes: “We did a lot of video analysis, whiteboard stuff and specific skill work. In fact about 40% of our time together was spent on individual skill work. The other thing we did a lot of was game day drills; that is drills with bodies in the way. Anybody can be a superstar in fresh air, but having bodies in the way forces them to think. We wanted to do things smarter than what we had been.”
Taylor On Defence:  “We spent a lot of time on defence. We figured that attack would more or less look after itself, but if we could completely shut down the opposition defensively then that would go a long way towards winning games. We wanted our forwards in particular to be complete players.”
Taylor On Tight Forward Play:In 99 we played Kelston in the Top Four final and lost in the last minute after the worst kick you’ve even seen to win a game. We were expected to get a hiding so to get so close actually increased our belief that we could complete at the top level. I thought the difference in the game was the tight forward play of Kelston. We were tougher but they were bigger and far more skilled. One of the reasons for Christchurch’s success between 2001 and 2006 was the greater skills of our tight forwards. They could perform their traditional roles really well but also handle the ball and get around the park very quickly.”
Ralston On Leadership: “Guys like Tim Bateman and Nasi Manu were real leaders, they have the ability to rally people around them and bring the best out in the guys. We were lucky to have several players who could lead a team through their actions and tactical appreciation of the game. The other thing we had in this era was huge self belief. The guys didn’t think they would lose because they were in the habit of winning and it’s hard to break that cycle when the culture is a good one.”
Ralston On Relationship With The Crusaders: “The Crusaders were market leaders in professional rugby in New Zealand so we tried to model our game on theirs. They had an academy for young players and also staged coaching clinics, so we looked to get as much out of those things as we could and I guess we went on to become a good feeder for them.”

 

 2004: Summary of Matches

 

May 1st v St Bede’s College – Won: 26-19

The first Press Cup game saw Christchurch dominate in the first half, especially at scrum and lineout time. The score was 19-0 at the interval after tries by Kosei Ono, Tim Bateman and Nicky Thomson. St Bede’s scored first in the second half then Chris Small dived in for Christchurch. But, despite a late revival by St Bede’s, Christchurch did enough to win.

 

May 8th Waimea College – Won: 62-0

Waimea was never in the contest and were down 24-0 at halftime. The Christchurch scrum excelled again as did the backline, scoring eight tries in total. The scorers were: Chris Small (2), Shaun McClintock (2), Sam Panapho (2), Hoani Matenga and Kris McKechnie.

 

May 18th Timaru Boys’ High School – Won: 64-3

In a record win against long-time rivals Timaru, Kris McKechnie’s opening try sparked a scoring surge which didn’t stop all afternoon.  Ralston rated this performance as one of the best he has seen from a Christchurch team.

 

May 22nd Ashburton College – Won: 113-0

Christchurch scored 15 tries in this match and Colin Slade kicked 9 goals from 9 attempts as they led 56-0 at halftime and piled on 57 points in the second half. Kieran Black was top try scorer, with three.

 

May 29th Nelson College – Won: 28-8

Played in fine weather but on a greasy surface, Nelson drew first blood with a penalty after some basic errors by Christchurch. A tense first half saw Christchurch narrowly lead by 8-3 at half-time. In the second half, Kieran Black, with his ability to turn the ball over, was a key player for Christchurch who took control of the match and went on to a well-earned, bonus point victory. Tries went to Chris Small (2), Hoani Matenga and Tim Bateman. Colin Slade kicked 2 penalties and a conversion.

 

June 5th Shirley Boys’ High School – Won 41-15

The Christchurch school magazine declared after this six tries to two victory that “there is a gap starting to emerge between CBHS and the rest”. Shirley tried hard and at one stage was down by just 15-26. However the bigger Christchurch team always had the answers when required. Chris Small scored two tries in this game making it three games in a row where he had achieved this. Nasi Manu crossed for his first 1st XV try as well.

 

June 12th Marlborough Boys’ College – Won 38-5

A sluggish start by Christchurch allowed Marlborough some early chances but their inability to take them would prove costly. Christchurch got better as the game progressed and won easily in the end. Nicky Thomson scored two tries and just when it seemed that Chris Small would have his try scoring streak broken, Small sprinted the length of the field to score! Colin Slade also scored a try and added four conversions.

 

June 19th West Coast School – Won: 88-0

A handsome victory saw Christchurch score 13 tries in total with Nicky Thompson (4) and Chris Small (3) scoring over half of them! Colin Slade added nine conversions.

 

June 21st Wellington College – Won: 15-13

Against the Wellington Champions, Christchurch slumped to a 0-13 deficit at halftime, but second half tries to Nicky Thompson and Mason Pomare saw Christchurch close to within one point. With only seconds left Christchurch was awarded a difficult penalty, 40 meters out and on an angle. Colin Slade stepped up and calmly slotted it for the win.

 

June 29th Christ’s College – Won: 73-0

Dave Ralston On Record Win Against Christ’s: “The highlight of this game was Chris Small’s hard, straight running. Unfortunately Christ’s didn’t have much of a team that year.”

The perfect performance against Christchurch’s oldest rivals saw three tries scored in the first 10 minutes and a record 11 tries scored in a crushing victory. Chris Small bagged three, Nicky Thomson scored two, Mitchell Alcock, Nasi Manu, Shaun McClintock, and Tim Bateman each collected one. Kosei Ono scored a try and kicked 3 conversions with Colin Slade kicking the other five conversions.

 

July 24th v St Andrew’s College – Won: 51-13

Played as a curtain raiser to the All Blacks v Springboks test at Jade Stadium, Christchurch posted yet another half century, with Chris Small scoring another three tries.

 

July 31st v Aranui High School – Won: 14-12

Dave Ralston On Aranui High School: “Aranui was very strong in 2004. They had a league academy which they used to promote their rugby. They had good athletics who were very physical and were well coached to by John Rangihuna.”

Christchurch was without their three New Zealand Schools players for this match and it showed, as Aranui pushed them right to the edge. Aranui led 12-7 into the second half and had two late penalty chances to win the game. The difference for Christchurch was the try scoring prowess of Chris Small. He grabbed another two tries and that, coupled with Colin Slade and Kosei Ono’s conversions, was just enough for the win.

 

August 3rd v Otago Boys’ High School – Won: 17-7

In slippery conditions the Christchurch forwards controlled the first half well and led 14-0 at the interval. Mitchell Alcock and Kieran Black both scored tries. Otago fought back hard in the second spell and scored a fine try, however a Colin Slade penalty was enough to secure for Christchurch an unbeaten season in traditional games.

 

August 10th (Press Cup Semi Final) v Shirley Boys’ – Won: 23-0

The match was played in wet conditions and Shirley was never really in the contest although the Christchurch backs hardly saw the ball. Chris Small still found time to score a try however and Daniel Shin scored the other try with Colin Slade kicking 10 points and Kosei Ono adding a penalty to complete the scoring.

 

August 17th (Press Cup Final) v Nelson College – Won: 43-16

Christchurch, on the receiving end of a heavy penalty count, struggled in the early stages of the first half. It took a series of powerful runs by Kieran Black and Mason Pomare to get the scoreboard moving, Christchurch led 19-11 at the break. In the second half, Christchurch was rampant and cruised to their 4th Press Cup title in a row, finishing with seven tries overall. Hoani Matenga (2), Reuben Fitzgerald (2) Kieran Black, Tim Bateman and of course Chris Small were the scorers.

 

Nationals

 

September 4th Top 16: v Nelson College – Won: 44-15

Same opposition, similar score! Colin Slade scored 15 points and Baydon Phillips scored two of Christchurch’s six tries in a big win which could have been even bigger! It was 32-3 at halftime!

 

September 11th Top 8: v Southland Boys’ – Won: 38-7

Traveling South to face a typically big Southland pack did not prevent Christchurch from posting another large victory. Tim Bateman and Chris Small scored two tries each and Colin Slade kicked 13 points in a comfortable victory.

 

September 18th Top 4 Semi Final: Hastings Boys’ – Won: 21-14

Ralston On Semi Final Victory: “Hastings was a very big and talented team who we dominated, but they had players who could create things from nothing and that’s what kept them in the game. The fact that we rallied to beat them gave us confidence that we could win matches against North Island sides. This victory gave us the Moascar Cup as well. To be honest none of the guys knew much about the significance of the Moascar because it hadn’t been in the South Island for over 80 years. After we did some research on the background of the trophy though, we soon understood its importance. And the fact that every home match in 2005 become a Moascar Cup defence, gave us added incentive to perform at our best in each game.”

Hastings were unbeaten Super 8 champions in 2004 and entered this game averaging 40 points a game! Christchurch started strongly and Tim Bateman created the first try for winger Reuben Fitzgerald. Hastings finished the first half better though and tries to Tivaini Fomai and Alex Tulou, both converted by James Rosenberg, gave them a 14-5 halftime lead. Hastings started the second half on attack and had a long period inside Christchurch territory but failed to breach the blue and black defence. This was the turning point of the match! Bateman scored to put Christchurch ahead 16-14 before a wily Colin Slade intercept won Christchurch a passage through to the final. This victory gained Christchurch the Moascar Cup for just the second time in their history.

 

September 22nd Top 4 Final:  Wesley College – Drawn: 22-22

The Christchurch magazine complained that the Wesley team contained several over-sized and over age players. Whatever the legitimacy of that remark, one thing is certain; Wesley who scored 1317 points in 25 games in 2004 was a formidable team. The match was played at Wesley, and the home team did all the early attacking, but it was Colin Slade who scored first with a drop goal. Wesley scored two tries in the first half, their size and flare often proving hard to handle for the southerners. Despite this, Christchurch actually took the lead 16-12 with Colin Slade kicking three penalties. In the second half Christchurch had the better of the lineout, Wesley the better of the scrum. In a contrast of styles, with Wesley running from everywhere and Christchurch playing more cautiously, the game turned into a cliff-hanger. In the end the teams could not be spilt. At 19-19, Wesley went ahead with a drop goal, before Colin Slade, who scored 17 points in the game, nailed his fourth penalty to secure a draw. Christchurch retained the Moascar Cup and shared the National title for the first time in their history.

 

1983: The Last Unbeaten Team

Played: 20

Won: 19

Drew: 1

Points For: 410

Points Against: 72

Average Score: 20-4

Biggest Win: 67-3, v Timaru Boys’ High School (Richard Wilkinson 4 of the 13 tries)

Drawn Match: 13-13, Waitaki Boys’ High School (Waitaki went 16-2-1 in 1983)

Top Try Scorer: David Ellis, 14.

Championships: Christchurch Secondary Schools and Under 19

New Zealand Schools: Murray Whitley

 

Acknowledgments: Robert McLean, Steve Fraser, Stephen Dodds, Richard Taylor, Dave Ralston

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