St Peter’s Cambridge has produced only one All Black, but the player concerned was a fine role model at school and later a high quality Waikato stalwart.
Keith Lowen spent the first three years of college at Huntley College where he played soccer, rugby and league. So how exactly did Lowen end up at St Peter’s?
“I was in the Huntley College First XV in 91 and we played St Peter’s and I guess their coaches liked the look of me so they approached my parents and offered me a scholarship.”
But Lowen wasn’t exactly thrilled to be leaving Huntley.
“I thought leaving Huntley was the end of the world. Going to such a big school with impressive facilities and without my mates took a while to get used to. It was a real eye-opener.”
Lowen made the First XV at St Peter’s in the sixth form in 1992. He enjoyed a memorable season earning selection for the Waikato Secondary Schools team and high praise from his coach Stephen Furlong who wrote in the school magazine:
“I would like to publicly thank Keith for his tremendous effort on and off the field…he scored a record 20 tries and 188 points.”
How did playing rugby at St Peter’s influence Lowen as a player?
“The approach to training was more organised and diligent, which meant my skills and attitude to the game really improved. The other thing that helped was the facilities, they were outstanding and the athletics I was involved with during the summer helped me get fitter.”
Lowen is grateful for the contribution of his two coaches Steve Furlong and the Bishop Maku Potae
“Steve Furlong was my housemaster and took me under his wing. At first he was very strict because I was a rough Samoan kid from Huntley who was a bit out of place at St Peters. But over time I got to like him and thought he was a very good coach. Matu Pukoe was a Maori Bishop who carried a lot of mana at St Peter’s because of what he achieved. Personally he was somebody I was close with because I was one of the few Polynesian boys at the school.”
1992: First XV Record
Honours: Won Promotion to Division 1 Competition
Notable Wins: Wanganui Collegiate, Lindisfarne, Cambridge High
- Deputy Head Boy
- Head of Broadhurst House
- Representative on the School Council
- A Bass player in the school rock band Solofanua
- Vice-Captain of the First XI cricket Team
- Waikato Secondary Schools
- Waikato Under 19
- Northern Regions Secondary Schools A
- Waikato Senior Sevens
Lowen was a very accomplished cricketer and playing cricket after school was a serious consideration.
“I loved cricket! My favorite sporting memory at school was hitting Daniel Vettori for six when we played St Paul’s Collegiate. I also made 155 against Cambridge High School but when I was selected for the Waikato Sevens rugby team later in the year things just took off for me in rugby and cricket was left behind.”
On the rugby field St Peters had a fine season in 1993. Despite the record of 10 wins in 21 games appearing modest the school magazine reflected that the record “did not reflect the spirit and competitiveness of the games.” Closer inspection reveals that St Peter’s beat Cambridge High School, Fraser High School and Morrinsville College in Division 1 of the Waikato competition. Additionally St Peter’s beat a very strong Lindisfarne College (who won 21 of their 28 games) by 22-16; Lowen recalls this game as his finest at St Peter’s
“I was a goal kicker at school and even a little bit in club rugby. That day against Lindisfarne I had to kick some sideline conversions to win the game. When I played for Waikato Matt Cooper was the goal kicker which meant I never got a look in.”
A tour to North America where St Peter’s won three out of their four games was another highlight.
“This was my first overseas trip for rugby and I was blown away as a small kid from Huntley. I was very lucky to get the chances I got.”
Keith Lowen After School Achievements
Keith Lowen’s Advice To Schoolboy Players: “Persevere and you’ll get there eventually. If you really love the game things can and will happen for you.”
In a profile piece for the North America tour in 1993 Keith Lowen wrote that it was his ambition to become a physical education instructor and his hobbies included guitar, eating, sleeping, athletics and cricket. He wouldn’t have much time for either of those other sports as he became one of the best midfield backs in the country.
Position: Second Five/Centre
First Class Debut: 1996 v Bay of Plenty
Waikato Matches: 83
Waikato Tries: 44
Chiefs Matches: 55
Blues Matches: 5
Rugby Almanack Most Improved Back Award: 1999
Division I Player Of the Year Award: 2002
All Black Number: 1020
All Blacks Test: 2002, v England, Lost 28-31, Jonah Lomu (2 tries)
Overseas Rugby: Japan and South Africa
Career: Waste Management
Acknowledgments: Keith Lowen, Jason Speedy, Andrew Douglas