Upper Hutt Leader
All four Upper Hutt colleges will field sides in the Wellington Secondary Schools rugby league competition, which begins tomorrow.
Upper Hutt College, unbeaten in two years, will be looking for more success and will, along with Heretaunga, play in a Upper Valley zone with first-timers St Patrick's Silverstream and Hutt International Boys' School sides.
The Stephen Kearney Cup competition, played at the completion of the college rugby union season, continues to grow with 17 of a possible 24 secondary schools competing and with Silverstream and HIBS the new new sides in 2010.
The teams play in their geographic pools up to the term holidays, after which the top two sides from each pool go into the quarterfinals and the bottom two play off in a plate section.
Finals day will be at Hutt Park on Sunday, October 31.
Upper Hutt has had a big turnover in players from last season and recently finished seventh in the three-day nationals, trailing behind Wainuiomata and Taita who were second and third and shape up to be tough second-round opposition.
Upper Hutt also hold the Ross Whaanga Kumete, which is defended at home games and will go on the line against St Pat's Silverstream tomorrow week.
"The Stephen Kearney Cup is a great competition to introduce players to rugby league while giving them the opportunity to represent their school," Wellington Rugby League's Jason Hemson says.
"We welcome St Pat's Silverstream and Hutt International Boys on board and it's pleasing to see the quality of the coaches involved through all the teams."
These include former Kiwi Mike Kuiti, in charge of a HIBS side which will feature many players coming off their recent premier two competition win in rugby union.
Silverstream's embracing of the "rival code" will be interesting too.
The college's first XV were premier one rugby winners, and the school has a long and proven union tradition. College Sport Wellington's John Hornal says the competition's growth is impressive "and due to the fact it doesn't clash with rugby union, which takes away any conflict of interest and means the kids don't need to decide between the two sports."
Opening games (at 4pm) for the local colleges tomorrow see Heretaunga home to Upper Hutt and Silverstream home to HIBS.
- Upper Hutt Leader