Special prize for College captain

Mitchell Drummond's Press Cup involvement didn't end with Nelson College's semifinal loss to St Bede's College in Christchurch two weeks ago.

On Saturday, the Nelson College First XV rugby captain and halfback was flown to Christchurch, courtesy of the Canterbury Rugby Union, to receive the inaugural Philip McDonald Memorial Medal after he was named the most outstanding individual player of the Press Cup secondary schools competition. The award was nominated by the coaches of each of the other competing teams, each coach asked to nominate a player from any team other than their own.

Philip McDonald lost his life in the February 2011 earthquake. At the time he was a Crusaders board member, Mid-Canterbury Rugby board member and is a former Mid-Canterbury chairman. He was also a keen follower of the Press Cup.

A surprised Drummond said that his Nelson College First XV coach, Bill Liddell, notified him of the award last Thursday - the first time Drummond even knew that it existed.

He said that being nominated by coaches of other teams made it a "pretty special" award.

Drummond was a guest at Saturday's Press Cup final between Christchurch Boys' High School and St Bede's in Christchurch, won 27-8 by Christchurch, to leave them unbeaten for the season, with the award presented to him by McDonald's widow, Sharon, during the halftime break.

"That made it doubly special," he said.

Drummond said he enjoyed the opportunity to watch the final, despite Nelson not being involved.

"They were the two best teams so they both deserved to be there. I was lucky to be able to watch it."

Drummond's season is by no means over, with the Nelson Bays under-18 representative season due to kick off on September 1. He is also one of five local players still in the mix for New Zealand secondary schools team selection, along with his Nelson College team-mates Mitchell Hunt, Steve Soper and Kerehama Barrett and Waimea College's Fletcher Mathews. The next cut of 60 players is due to be made early next month.

"I'll just keep my fingers crossed and see what happens."

This was Drummond's final year at college and plans to begin a builder's apprenticeship next year. He said he had not yet decided which club he will play for next season.

The Nelson Mail