In 2002, Napier Boys’ High School boasted an experienced and highly rated team that was expected to be a formidable unit. Napier duly swept all of their traditional rivals, won their local competition and even captured the Super 8 title as unbeaten winners. At the National Top Four, they reached the final for a fourth time, where they faced Rotorua Boys’ High School. Could Napier do what no other Napier team had done and win a National title?
Coaches: Del Whyte, Stu Gourdie
Captain: Robbie Schaw
Players: Joe Utiera, Ricky Blundson, Ryan Hambleton, Lee Stewart, James Warren, Karne Hesketh, Leon Head, Jerome Ruhi, Peter Sciascia, Ally Paine, Simon Bremner, Matthew Head, Daniel Waenga, Scott Williamson, John Robin, Pete Best, Nick Marshall, Robbie Schaw, Dennis Puia, Colin Bourke, Bryn Evans, Nick Marshall, John Robin
Points For: 1,088
Points Against: 191
Average Score: 45-8
Fifty Points In A Single Game: 8
Opponent Kept Scoreless: 5
- Technical Colts, 33-5
- Palmerston North Boys’ High School, 15-16
- Westlake Boys’ High School, 74-0
- Kelston Boys’ High School, 29-24
- Christ’s College, 32-5
- Havelock North, 95-5
- Marist Colts, 45-5
- Taradale, 121-0
- St John’s College, 76-0
- Central Hawkes Bay, 71-0
- Te Aute College, 71-0
- Wellington College, 48-7
- Wairarapa College, 20-5
- Gisborne Boys’ High School, 18-3
- Hastings Boys’ High School, 10-9
- Palmerston North Boys’ High School, 43-14
- Tauranga Boys’ College, 59-7
- Hamilton Boys’ High School, 29-13
- Rotorua Boys’ High School, 19-5
- New Plymouth Boys’ High School, 38-32
- Wanganui City College, 77-5
- Palmerston North Boys’ High School, 27-12
- Otago Boys’ High School, 32-13
- Rotorua Boys’ High School, 6-6
v Kelston Boys’ High School – Won 29-24
A 19-0 first half lead was enough to secure victory in this match against a side noted for their backline prowess. Kelston later won the Condor Sevens and Moascar Cup in 2002. Ricky Blundson, with 14 points (1 try, 3 conversions and a penalty), was especially good in this match.
v Te Aute College – Won: 71-0
In an avalanche of scoring, Napier picked up 11 tries in an easy win. James Warren grabbed three and Ricky Blundson with two tries and eight conversions scored 26 points.
v Wellington College – Won: 48-7
The Wellington Champions were demolished, with Colin Bourke scoring three tries. This was Wellington’s biggest defeat since a 0-51 loss to Wanganui Collegiate in 1903.
v Wairarapa College – Won 20-5
A very hard and physical match which saw Napier, after a long struggle, eventually get on top and score a comfortable enough victory. Colin Bourke, Peter Sciacia and Nick Marshall scored tries.
v Gisborne Boys’ High School – Won: 18-3
Gisborne started strongly when they kicked a penalty and forced Napier to perform a lot of backs to the wall, goal-line defending. Napier gradually got on top however, led 10-3 at halftime and never really looked back. Tries were scored by Karne Hesketh and Ryan Hambleton.
v Hastings Boys’ High School – Won: 10-9
In this away fixture, Napier slumped to a 3-9 halftime deficit. Hastings continued to hold the lead for most of the second half, until Bryn Evans sprinted 40 meters and put John Robin under the posts to score. Ricky Blundson converted and Napier was crowned Hawke’s Bay champions.
v Palmerston North Boys’ High School – Won: 43-14
Future Bay of Plenty captain, Colin Bourke, began the 99th Polson Banner match by scoring a great solo try. Palmerston responded with two tries of their own, before James Warren scored for Napier, to make it 12-14 at halftime. In the second half Napier played incredible rugby to score 31 unanswered points, and complete their biggest ever victory in the Polson Banner. John Robin (2) Daniel Waenga (2) and Ryan Hambleton were the second-half try scorers.
v Tauranga Boys’ College – Won: 59-7
Against a smaller team, Napier was rampant, scoring nine tries in a runaway victory. John Robin was especially effective, scoring three tries and Ricky Blundson scored 19 points (1 try, 7 conversions)
v Hamilton Boys’ High School – Won: 29-13
Napier recovered from a slow start to lead 17-6 at halftime and, despite Hamilton playing bravely, Napier always had the match under control. Daniel Waenga scored two of the four tries collected by Napier.
v Rotorua Boys’ High School – Won: 19-5
Rotorua scored the opening try and missed several penalty attempts which could have seen them well ahead. However, Ricky Blundson had his kicking boots on for Napier, and slotted two goals before halftime to give Napier a 6-5 lead at the break. It remained tight in the second half until Daniel Waenga scored, and Ricky Blundson showed his class by dropping a goal to finish with 14 points.
v New Plymouth Boys’ High School – Won: 38-32
An entertaining match at the Gully saw six lead changes and seventy points scored! John Robin scored two tries for Napier, and Dennis Puia, Colin Bourke, Joe Utiera and James Warren all grabbed one each in the memorable win.
v Wanganui City College – Won: 77-5
Ricky Blundson had a field day in this match. He scored four of the first five tries and contributed 26 points overall in the 13 try romp. Ironically, Napier kicked poorly in this game missing seven conversion attempts.
v Palmerston North Boys’ High School – Won: 27-12
Colin Bourke inspired Napier with his running game and helped the home side leap to an early 17-0 lead. In the second half, Napier increased the lead to an unassailable 27-0, before Palmerston scored two late tries. Ricky Blundson had a great day with 17 points (2 tries, 2 conversions, 1 penalty).
National Top 4
v Otago Boys’ High School – Won: 32-13
In 2002, Otago had won all their interschool fixtures for the second time in a row. They entered this match in Napier as South Island champions. Nick Marshall, with an intercept try, steadied Napier after a shaky start. Denis Puia scored near halftime to make it 15-6 at the interval. In the second half Marshall completed a hat-trick as Napier advanced to their second top 4 a row.
v Rotorua Boys’ High School – Drawn 6-6
The final was to be played at Eden Park as a curtain raiser to the Auckland vs. Canterbury NPC fixture. The match was played on the last day of the third term and Napier traveled up on Wednesday, enjoyed the tournament dinner on Thursday, and arrived at a wet Eden Park on Friday. Rotorua, with their heavier pack, pressured Napier who had to defend stoutly to avoid a larger halftime deficit than 3-6. In the second half Napier made two good breaks, both of which they failed to convert into points. Ricky Blundson kicked his second penalty with five minutes left to tie the scores. Napier were then camped on their own line for the last moments of the game, but held on to secure a draw and became New Zealand Champions for the first time. Although it was an improvement on previous final results, Ricky Bludson summed up the feeling for both teams at the end of the match when he said, “sharing the trophy is like kissing your sister, no one really wins.” Note: To add insult to injury, before the NPC fixture there was a Politicians verses Musicians match!
New Zealand Sevens: Colin Bourke
New Zealand Schools: Colin Bourke (Captain), Bryn Evans
Hurricanes Schools: Pete Best, Nick Marshall, Dennis Puia, Robbie Schaw (Captain), Bryn Evans, Ali Paine, Colin Bourke, Ricky Blundson, John Robin (Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools)
Best Napier Teams: 1952-2011
Napier Boys’ High School has traditionally been one of the strongest teams in the country. Below are the achievements of some of their best teams since the long-serving Burt Milburn retired in 1952.
Note: Milburn coached the First XV from 1923-1952. His best team was the 1947 side that went 16-0. He coached an estimated 500 games and won about 60% of them. Milburn won the Polson Banner 14 times and was a teacher at Napier from 1921-1962.
Moascar Cup Winners: 1972, 1984, 2003
National Top Four Winners: 2002
National Top Four Runners Up: 1985, 1988, 1992, 2003
National Top Four Third Place: 1986, 2001, 2011
Super 8 Champions: 2000, 2002, 2003
Polson Banner Winners: Every year noted in the above table accept 1972
Most Points In A Season: 1088, 2002
Most Wins Games Unbeaten In A Row: 45, 2002-2003