Talk to anybody involved in schoolboy rugby in Canterbury and they almost all agree that the Press Cup has lifted standards. In fact since its inception in 2001 the Press Cup has produced three National champions. Prior to the Press Cup only one South Island school had won the National Top 4. How and why did the Press Cup start? Which School won the inaugural competition?
Background to the Press Cup
The Press Cup started because the five secondary schools in the Christchurch Metropolitan Under 18 Section One grade became disenchanted with having to play each other four or even five times in a season. The Canterbury rugby union explains what happened next:
It was considered that broadening the competition to include teams within what had become the Crusaders region would provide additional competition and a refreshing approach to schools’ rugby where teams would travel and have an experience greater than just their weekly rugby match. The concept was to have the five Christchurch (Canterbury) schools compete against a team from each of the other six provincial unions that formed the Crusaders’ region. As Nelson was the second largest province they would have 2 teams, and West Coast and Buller were rolled into one because of the population base.
The concept gained approval in October 2000… The rules and regulations of the new competition were put to the schools and accepted in November 2000. The first Press Cup started in April 2001 with the first games played at the start of the second school term. The concept was also accepted by the Crusaders Franchise Board of Directors who considered it was a valuable development programme for the talented players coming through the schools’ system. The funding was supplied by The Press, Mainland Sport, a gaming machine trust established initially to manage the gaming machines at the Holy Grail, and a player levy.
The 12 schools that participated in the inaugural year were: Aranui High School, Christchurch B H S, Christ’s College, St Andrew’s College, St Bede’s College, Shirley B H S (Canterbury), Nelson College, Waimea College (Nelson), Ashburton College, (Mid Canterbury), Timaru B H S (South Canterbury), Marlborough Boys’ College (Marlborough) and a combined team from West Coast High Schools (West Coast and Buller).
2001: Christchurch BHS
Captain: Andrew Zuppicich
Forwards: George Naoupu, Steven Yates, Chris Cochrane, Sam Cochrane, Nick Muir, Matt Ley, Matt Holloway, Andrew Olorenshaw, Jason Mitchell, Alex Newfield, Simon Livingstone, Andrew Zuppicich.
Backs: Neil Broom, Kane Finnie, Phil Gibson, Neil Broom, Keke Leatua, Tonga Mounga, Glen Moroney, Keegan Taie, Andrew Burton, Steven Yates, Michael Saunders, Stuart Burrage.
Points For: 618
Points Against: 231
Average Score: 33-12
- Waimea College, 31-6
- Nelson College, 23-11
- West Coast Schools, 50-0
- Timaru Boys High School, 29-5
- Ashburton College, 61-0
- Marlborough Boys High School, 65-0
- St Bede’s College, 21-5
- Irish Invitation, 20-15
- Aranui College, 52-12
- Scots College (Australia), 35-5
- Rangitoto College, 44-20
- Christ’s College, 26-19
- Shirley Boys High School, 19-15
- Otago Under 23, 0-23
- St Andrew’s College, 15-12
- Waitaki Boys High School, 47-15
- Christ’s College, 29-3
- Christ’s College, 31-26
- Southland Boys High School, 20-36
First Press Cup Game
The first game of the Press Cup was played against Waimea College and won by 31-6. The Christchurch Boys magazine complained, “Poor handling” was a feature of the team’s performance which saw five tries scored.
St Bede’s Struggle
After the biggest win of the season against Marlborough Boys College, 65-0 (Neil Broom 21 points) Christchurch edged arch-rivals St Bede’s College in “atrocious” conditions, 21-5. Kane Finnie, Steven Yates and Neil Broom all scored tries in the victory.
The Annual Christ’s Game
The Christ’s game was played at Rugby Park due to huge crowds and a lack of security at Boys High. Featuring the two unbeaten teams in the Press Cup, Christchurch started strongly and led 17-8 at halftime. In the second half Christ’s briefly led, before Christchurch rallied to win a thriller, 26-19, Neil Broom (Below) contributed 21 points.
The First Press Cup Final
Christchurch Boys High School Magazine: “Seldom do things come together in a team sport like rugby as it did during this final.”
The first Press Cup final was played at Jade Stadium. Christchurch led by 12-3 at halftime and completely dominated the match to win by 29-3. Tries were scored by George Naoupu (2), Kele Leatua, Andrew Olorenshaw and Tonga Mounga. George Naoupu below:
The first Press Cup champions scored 421 points and conceded just 88. A week later Christchurch meet Christ’s again in the first round of the National 1st XV knockout competition. This time the game was a nine try thriller, won narrowly 31-26 by Christchurch. Christ’s led by 12-8 at halftime, but Christchurch’s extra try, five against four, was enough to earn a third win against Christ’s in 2001.
Top Class Players
Several players enjoyed success after school including George Nauopu who made the New Zealand Schools team and later played Super rugby. Steven Yates played for the New Zealand Sevens team, Andrew Zuppicich for Tasman, Chris Cochrane for Ulster and Andrew Olorenshaw for Canterbury and the Crusaders. Neil Broom represented the New Zealand cricket team.
Acknowledgments: Steve Fraser, Robert McLean Christchurch Boys High School