World title-winning Wellington schoolgirls welcomed home video

MONIQUE FORD/ Stuff.co.nz

St Mary's College sevens team received a heroes' welcome at Wellington Airport on Thursday, after being crowned Sanix World Rugby Youth Tournament champions in Japan.

The school doesn't have a blade of grass to play on, but that hasn't stopped St Mary's College in Wellington from being pitch perfect in Japan.

The team received an emotional welcome at Wellington Airport on Thursday morning, after claiming the Sanix World Youth Tournament's rugby sevens title just days ago.

Clutching a replica trophy, and with their gold medals hanging from their necks, tears flowed as the team were congratulated by the fellow students and their families.

Wellington's St Mary's College sevens team celebrate winning in Japan.
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Wellington's St Mary's College sevens team celebrate winning in Japan.

Vice-captain Renee Savai'inaea described the final against Kokugakuin University Tochigi High School as a "nail-biter", in which St Mary's eventually prevailed 26-22.

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"We were quite humble. We just went to the tryline, did a prayer as a team, and clapped the audience for cheering for us," she said.

The victorious St Mary's College sevens team perform a haka to thank well-wishers at Wellington Airport on Thursday.
MONIQUE FORD/ FAIRFAX NZ

The victorious St Mary's College sevens team perform a haka to thank well-wishers at Wellington Airport on Thursday.

Coach Tuga​ Mativa​, who drew on the expertise of All Blacks flanker and best mate Ardie Savea, said the victory was overwhelming.

"When the final whistle blew, I cried. I was emotional," Mativa said. "We've won many championships, but that had to be the sweetest."

Students from Rongotai College's first XV performed a passionate haka to acknowledge Mativa's part in the team's success.

All Blacks and Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea provided his expertise to the world-beating St Mary's College sevens team.
MONIQUE FORD/ FAIRFAX NZ

All Blacks and Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea provided his expertise to the world-beating St Mary's College sevens team.

"It's just surreal, just unreal," Mativa said.

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While Hurricanes' commitments meant he was unable to travel to Japan, Savea was among the hordes of well-wishers greeting the team.

"We don't really see him as an All Black, though, we just see him as a good friend and coach," Savai'inaea smiled.

St Mary's College principal Catherine Ryan says there will be a special school assembly next week to mark the ...
FAIRFAX NZ

St Mary's College principal Catherine Ryan says there will be a special school assembly next week to mark the achievements of the team.

"I just think this [result has] really pushed the drive for other girls to come play rugby and give it a go, and also probably girls around the country will want to have a go at sevens as well."

College principal Catherine Ryan praised the girls for their tenacious attitudes.

"We have no field, but we have a lot of spirit and a lot of motivation, and if we want to make it work, we make it work," Ryan said.

 - Stuff

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