Fervent fans give Makos total support

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 24/10/2013
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

YOUNG FANS: Nelson Intermediate pupils will be supporting the Tasman Makos rugby team and former student and current Makos team member Tom Marshall when the ITM Cup rugby final is played at Trafalgar Park on Friday night.

Nelson College students
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
HEAD SUPPORT: Nelson College students Brad North, right, and Jacob Bignell with the Makos shark fin foam hats they developed as part of their business studies.

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The Makos' looming ITM Cup rugby final has stirred a shark frenzy in Nelson.

Fans are showing their support in a variety of colourful ways this week, with Nelson College and Nelson Intermediate students spearheading their team's campaign for championship glory against Hawke's Bay tomorrow.

Brad North, 16, and Jacob Bignell, 18, have attended all but two of the Tasman Makos' home games this season selling Shark Fin Foam hats and supporters' wristbands, which the entrepreneurs commissioned as part of their Nelson College business enterprise class.

Brad says they have sold about 400 foam hats this season, mostly to young kids but plenty to rugby head-types too.

They moved more than 200 at the semifinal in Blenheim last Saturday and are hoping to clear the remaining 600 in stock tomorrow, thankful to the team for giving them two extra opportunities to make their money back on the investment.

"The whole season has been really, really good. [But] we wouldn't have come close to breaking even without these extra two games," Brad said.

The hats have been selling at $10 each, but the boys are offering a half-price special for the finals. Find them at SBS bank between 11am and 12pm, or the Richmond Mall between 12pm and 1pm, tomorrow for a chance to grab one ahead of time. Otherwise, see their stall near the main gate of Trafalgar Park before tomorrow's 7.35pm kickoff.

Brad admits the business plan was more about using an opportunity than about celebrating any particular sporting code or team.

The idea was so successful he and Jacob are now talking with associates about the potential for a similar product aimed at Crusaders supporters when the Super Rugby season starts, he said.

The boys' joint venture was inspired by business teacher and former Makos lock Jarrod Aberhart, who, it seems, has been moonlighting as an unofficial marketer for the Tasman team.

"None of this would have happened without him," Brad said.

Meanwhile, younger students at Nelson Intermediate School have been getting behind the team too.

Principal Hugh Gully said he picked up a bunch of Makos supporters' posters at the semifinal last weekend and decided to share them with his students.

"The kids are pretty excited," Mr Gully said.

He said many of his pupils were proud knowing that Makos star and Canterbury Crusader Tom Marshall went to the same school as them, when he was just a young ripper-rugby legend.

Some remembered James Lowe and Billy Guyton, who have both worked as teacher aides at the school, too, Mr Gully said.

"To me it's about celebrating our local team and giving the kids a bit of a connection," he said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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