In just 26 days the De La Salle College first 15 will run into the Global Arena in Fukuoka, Japan, in their bid to win the unofficial rugby world cup for secondary schools.
The 26-strong team is primed and ready to challenge the 19 other teams in the Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament.
They have only one distraction – they need to raise $25,000 in those 26 days.
That’s nearly half what the Mangere school has to raise to get its champion team to the Global Arena sports stadium in Munakata city in the Fukuoka prefecture.
The cost of playing in the 12-day tournament is $120,000.
De La Salle’s share is $50,000 after Sanix, the sponsor of the tournament since 2000, contributed just over half the cost.
Various trusts and rugby clubs have chipped in with the first $25,000, leaving just $25,000 to raise.
That figure is down to nearly $22,000 now after All Black Bernie McCahill organised a golf fundraiser for old boys and friends of the school at the Aviation Club near the Auckland International Airport last Thursday where they hoped to raise $3000. McCahill, a St Peter’s College old boy, is heading the fundraising.
"I got involved through my connections with the Marist Rugby Club and De La Salle is a feeder club for Marist," McCahill says.
The first 15 were out in force at the golf day, caddying and cooking a barbecue for players.
Among the helpers were team members identical twins Thomas and Sione Kolo who can’t wait to get on the plane.
"We’re really excited," they say.
"We’ve only been to the islands so we’re really looking forward to this trip."
The twins were born in Fiji, their mother Grace’s home.
She comes from the sugarcane town of Labasa on the island of Vanua Levu and their dad Akilisi is from Veitoga Village on the island of Tongatapu.
The two prop the De La Salle scrum and are the big men of the team.
Thomas is 1.93 metres tall and weighs 122kg. Sione is 2cm taller and 2kg heavier.
"I never played against anyone this big when I was in secondary school," McCahill says.
Anyone wanting to help the team get to Japan can make donations marked First Fifteen Rugby World Cup Tour Japan to ANZ Bank Otahuhu account number 01-0218-0093756-000.
People can also contact Mike McCahill on 027-246-4270.
- Manukau Courier