All Blacks' visit will be a 'boost' to Timaru
The South Canterbury Rugby Union is hoping to use the All Blacks' visit next Friday to Timaru to promote the game in an area where playing numbers are falling off.
Chief executive Tony Lewis said there was a 40 per cent drop in the 13 to 19-year age group, so they were looking to the province's secondary schools.
"We will unashamedly use the four All Blacks to target this group."
Twenty students from all the province's secondary schools will have question and answer sessions at Craighead in the morning at their auditorium.
The All Blacks will then host female players from the region's high schools at Alpine Energy Stadium for a skills session.
Lewis said the sessions were from 11.45am-12.45pm and there would be a chance for the public to watch and get an autograph.
Later, there would be a barbecue at the airport with the Timaru Boys' High School and Roncalli First XVs before the four All Blacks departed.
Lewis said he had not yet been advised which players would be coming but expected two each from Canterbury and Auckland.
The new chief executive would also be selling his idea of a local boys' First XV competition for rural schools and Mountainview High School, which he hoped would be played on a Wednesday afternoon next season.
"We are keen to grow the game and see this as a way of doing that."
If there was enough interest there would also be a competition for year 9 and 10 students from those schools, though Lewis was aware several players would likely be committed to various local clubs on a Saturday. He still saw it as a chance to get the schools involved.
"There is something special about First XV rugby and this is an opportunity to engage this group and also maybe get more playing rugby," he said.
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