Counties-Manukau win 2012 Rippa Championship

NZRU     19 Sep 2012     NZRU

Counties Manukau went into the Final having narrowly beaten Southland 40 - 35 in extra time in a pulsating semifinal while Manawatu overcame Canterbury in the first semifinal.

Emanuel Pau Pau and Kiha Teva with two tries apiece both starred for their side with outstanding defence and pace on attack, while coach Christina Patea said it was true teamwork that made the difference in the end.

"Everybody in the team did their bit to take the title. We've got a great team spirit and really enjoy our rugby. We're delighted to be taking the Cup on the flight home to South Auckland," said Roscommon coach Christina Patea.

Counties Manukau's victory was on the back of 14 per cent growth in the number of players under 12 registered to play rugby in South Auckland.

Emanuel Pau Pau said "Our attack was great but we had to play well defensively too as Manawatu were a really good side. I think our team all played really well together and I can't wait to take the trophy home," he said.

A total of 200 kids from 20 schools from around the country were in Wellington for the second annual tournament, which was supported by The New Zealand Community Trust. Both Roscommon (Counties Manukau) and Riverdale (Manawatu) were returning having played in Rippa World Cup 2011, which doubled as the national championship.

NZRU General Manager Community and Provincial Union Rugby Brent Anderson said the win by Roscommon School provided a fitting finale to what was a memorable tournament.

"The level of passion and commitment on display by each and every team at The Rippa Rugby Championship was a feature of the tournament. More than 200 students and their supporters will leave Wellington today having had an incredible two days - irrespective of the results on the field.

"While Counties took away the title, every team was a credit to the province they were representing and ensured an incredible spectacle."

The Rippa World Cup is played with 20 New Zealand schools representing one of 20 of the provinces which play in the ITM Cup or Heartland Championship and follows last year's successful Rippa World Cup 2011.

Rippa Rugby is a popular, safe, non-contact form of rugby aimed at primary school aged children where instead of tackling, players rip velcro-fastened tags off each other's waists.