Hipkins attends Moascar Cup

Visiting King’s High School for the King’s v Southland Boys High School First XV Moascar Cup Game...
Visiting King’s High School for the King’s v Southland Boys High School First XV Moascar Cup Game were (from left) Taieri MP Ingrid Leary, Southland lawyer and former Southland Boys’ First XV captain Peter Redpath, and Labour leader Chris Hipkins. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Anyone thinking they saw Chris Hipkins in and about the streets of South Dunedin at the weekend can be forgiven — the Opposition Leader was in town visiting local Labour Taieri MP Ingrid Leary.

He stopped in at the Milton Markets, popped into Aroma Cafe in South Dunedin for a cuppa with Leary and Dunedin MP Rachel Brooking, then strolled down to the Labour Rooms in Macandrew Rd to enjoy afternoon tea with the party faithful.

Yes, there happened to be a major All Blacks V England game on Saturday evening which the former prime minister was to attend with his good friend and now university Vice-chancellor Grant Robertson.

However, there was another drawcard rugby game that deserved his attention too: the King’s High School v Southland Boys’ High School First XV Moascar Cup Game, which he described as the Ranfurly Shield of schoolboy rugby.

The cup commemorates the end of World War 1, when Anzac and British soldiers formed the Ismalia Rugby Union as they waited for ships to take them home from their encampment at Moascar in Ismalia, Egypt.

Southland Boys’ former First XV captain, now lawyer, Peter Redpath travelled from Invercargill to the King’s pitch to watch the game, and coaxed Hipkins into sporting his school colours via a scarf he had brought with him especially for the occasion.

Back in his day in, 1977, the schools played each other annually alternating home and away one year to the next.

Now the two schools are part of a very competitive top division of the Highlanders region First XV competition.

Some students as young as 16 are already signed up with sports agents and plotting a viable course into professional rugby.

Southland Boys’ are NZ champions and recently came fourth at the Sanix World Tournament in Japan.

They scrapped to pip King’s 18-15 at Saturday’s game, allowing them to remain unbeaten in division 1.

Taieri MP Ingrid Leary said she would have to wear two scarves or none, with divided loyalties between her MP duties in South Dunedin but also as the "buddy" Labour MP for Invercargill.

She was not the only one with a bob each way on the day — several spectators were old boys from Southland who had moved to Dunedin with sons or nephews in the King’s team, and they said it was a nail-biting game whichever side you were on.

Mr Hipkins said he would not pick winners either, given he would risk getting into trouble with Mr Robertson, who was an old boy of King’s.

But he would wear the Southland scarf, given it was a gift — and more so because it was a great help keeping him warm in the chilly southern winds.