Mount Albert Grammar First XV second in world rugby tournament
Mount Albert Grammar School's First XV rugby team are the second-best high school side in the world.
The team picked up the silver medal at the Sanix World Rugby Youth Tournament in Japan last month - a competition that has been won by New Zealand schools nine times throughout its 17-year history.
They beat out high school teams from Russia, Japan, South Africa, Fiji, England, Chinese Taipei, and Korea, before losing to Lycees de la Borde Basse from France in a close final.
But it could have gone the other way for MAGS, who lost 3-9 to the French team, and were disallowed a try that the referee later apologised for not awarding.
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MAGS coach Geoff Moon said his side came close to being crowned world champions, but they could still be pleased with the performance.
"That game could have gone either way," Moon said.
"We were very close to actually winning it, especially with the disallowed try, but we're proud at just how much we improved during the week."
The tournament attracts the world's best high school teams every year, as they come to meet in Fukuoka, Japan.
MAGS were sent to the tournament after winning the national high school competition in 2016, which makes their achievement even more impressive considering they had a completely different side while the other nations were at the tail-end of their high school seasons.
Despite not taking home the top prize, Moon said the tour was a once in a lifetime experience that his players would never forget.
"The tournament was amazing. It was an unreal experience and the Japanese are the world's best hosts.
"They don't do anything in halves. The silver medal looks like a discus on a piece of rope, you feel like the mayor walking around with one of those."
A Japanese television station followed the MAGS team around, as well as covering all of the games throughout the competition.
Games would regularly attract upwards of 6000 fans, and with MAGS international student Taiki Ando hailing from Fukuoka, there was added publicity around the team.
The big challenge for MAGS is to now convert their momentum overseas, into the upcoming first XV competition which starts for them this weekend - just six days after returning home.
Moon said his side had grown from the tournament, but this weekend would be a real test.
"The problem we have is pyschologically the boys are shattered. This Saturday we'll be vulnerable so we're just trying to rest hard this week."