Potential "Small Blacks" got to experience the highs and lows of a tough rugby tournament in the inaugural year 5 and 6 Rippa Rugby Tournament.
The event was held at Tauraroa Area School on June 7, with teams coming from Whau Valley, Kokopu, Maungakaramea and Maungatapere Schools.
Ripper rugby is a safe, non-contact version of rugby for primary school players, where defendants must rip a flag from the belt of the ball holder, instead of making a tackle or touch.
Tauraroa deputy principal Danny Jewell says the tournament was a huge success.
"All students competed strongly for their schools and the rugby pitches were buzzing with enthusiasm and excitement," he says.
Senior Tauraroa Area School students helped with refereeing.
Last year's national rippa rugby champions Whau Valley Primary School were fierce opponents in both the A and B team leagues, with hosts Tauraroa also vying for supremacy.
In the B team final, a hard-fought contest culminated in a fine victory for Tauraroa over Whau Valley by five tries to two.
Mr Jewell says the game was played in a great spirit, and eventually Tauraroa proved to be too strong and quick.
In the group stages of the A team league, Whau Valley had narrowly beaten Tauraroa by six tries to five, and when they lined up for the final the crowd was anticipating another exciting match.
Whau Valley started off very strongly and went into a commanding 4-0 lead by halftime, and it looked like Tauraroa had used up all their energy in the group games.
However, a spirited comeback at the start of the second half saw Tauraroa score three unanswered tries and reduce the lead to one.
However, Whau Valley proved why they were New Zealand's top Rippa Rugby team by scoring three more tries to win 7-3.
Mr Jewell says students acquitted themselves well both on and off the pitch.
Tauraroa Area School looks forward to inviting more schools to this tournament next year, he says.
For more photos check out our electronic edition.
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