Fairfield pupils expose holes in All Blacks defence
"We beat the All Blacks!"
It's an achievement few international teams - let alone primary school rugby teams - can lay claim to.
But just after 5pm Monday, Fairfield Primary School's Rippa Rugby squad toppled the mighty All Blacks three tries to two in a hard-fought final at Hamilton's Fred Jones Park.
"We are the champions!" the boys and girls chanted, to the tune of the classic Queen song.
Fairfield was one of six school teams that competed in the Rippa Rugby tournament.
All Blacks Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick, Beauden Barrett, Francis Saili and Jeremy Thrush helped coach each team.
For the All Blacks, it was another day - a commitment that comes with being the nation's sports stars.
For the children, it was a rare chance to play alongside their heroes.
Blake Seavill, 10, of Karapiro School, said it was "all my dreams come true".
"It was a dream of mine to meet these guys and I can't believe it came true.
"I hope we get to meet them again and meet the rest of the team sooner or later."
Blake's team was coached by Cruden.
There was friendly banter between the All Blacks during the matches and a few jibes directed at the referees.
"Keep them on-side ref," Cruden bellowed from the sideline.
But most of the time it was high-fives and encouragement for the young players, who were doing their best to impress.
"I love rugby so much and I always look up to the whole team," Blake said. "And I want to play for the All Blacks some day. My favourite All Blacks would have to be Aaron Smith and Richie McCaw."
Fairfield Primary met Silverdale School in the semifinal, but it was Fairfield that went on to face the all-star All Blacks.
The match started as a large-scale "piggy in the middle" and the All Blacks' ball skills had the pupils running in circles. But in the dying seconds Fairfield's 'Amilame Finau, 9, zipped through the defence and scored the winning try in the corner.
He described the All Blacks as "hard and strong and quick" and said it was a "special" experience to play against them and even better to beat them.
The pupils debated whether the All Blacks went easy on them, but 'Amilame reckoned they didn't.
The All Blacks are in Hamilton preparing for their test match against Argentina on Saturday.
- © Fairfax NZ News