Return of OBHS helped to raise bar in schools tournament

A large crowd watches the action between Otago Boys' High School and John McGlashan College during the final of the Otago Premier Schools tournament at Littlebourne on Saturday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A large crowd watches the action between Otago Boys' High School and John McGlashan College during the final of the Otago Premier Schools tournament at Littlebourne on Saturday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The Otago Premier Schools tournament concluded with a tense final watched by a large crowd - by that measure, the competition was a big success.

But there might be the odd tweak before next season.

Otago Secondary Schools Rugby Council chairman Greg Heller has suggested there is room for improvement, but on the whole he was thrilled with the way the tournament went.

''I was really happy with the way the season played out,'' Heller said.

''Having Otago Boys' First XV back in the competition I think really helped to raise the bar.

''That was definitely borne out in the final with McGlashan bringing their A game. We know that final could have gone either way, so they have lifted their standard significantly, as well, which is really pleasing.''

Otago Boys' High School First XV made its return following three years' absence and did not dominate as many might have feared. It trailed John McGlashan College 17-10 with 10 minutes remaining in the final but got up to win 24-17.

But while the tournament finished on a high, Heller said there was the odd hiccup and a thorough review was planned.

''We'll work through a pretty robust review process now. We are seeking some feedback and are already looking to 2019 and giving consideration to what the framework might look like.''

Heller said the council had hoped to get Wakatipu High School involved as part of the 12-team tournament.

When that did not work out King's High School Second XV filled the void ''and it is fair to say that they struggled''.

The council is still keen to get Wakatipu involved and is flirting with the idea of allowing schools from Southland to enter.

''We certainly don't want to add huge numbers to the tournament but we also need to look at the level below premier schools,'' Heller added.

''It is all up for debate but our mandate comes from the Otago secondary schools.''

Secondary school rugby moves into the next phase now. The southern region qualifying tournament for the National Top Four Finals get under way this weekend when Otago Boys' hosts Waitaki Boys' High School in one semifinal and McGlashan travels south to play Southland Boys' High School in the other.

The Otago Secondary Schools Rugby Council came up with the regional qualification model which included semifinals instead of a straight final, as has been the format in the past.

Southland's secondary school rugby body rejected the qualification model but a mediator ruled in favour of the proposal.

The inclusion of Waitaki Boys' at the expense of King's High School raised a few eyebrows in rugby circles, given Waitaki Boys' did not make the semifinals of the Otago Premier Schools.

However, Heller said the council wanted to have representation from all three regions within the Highlanders' catchment so Waitaki Boys' was guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.

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