Auckland crowned Rippa Rugby Champions     21 Aug 2013

Holy Cross School from Papatoetoe, put five tries past Roscommon School, in a 25-15 triumph. Auckland looked the form team on finals day marching into the final with a 45-25 win over Bay of Plenty, while Counties Manukau were tested, being taken to extra time in both their quarter final and semi-final.

Earlier, in the bronze final, Bay of Plenty, represented by Opotiki School, edged out Otago (Arrowtown School) 30-25 to take third place.

Holy Cross School boy captain Julius Evans put their win down to team work.

"It's all about training and working together. Our coach said to run it hard with the ball and we listened and we ran hard when we got the ball and our defense was good too."

Girl captain Juana Pahulu who played the tournament last year said: "I'm 100 per cent excited. It's teamwork and the supporters and it's all in our minds."

Coach Bryan 'Ofamo'oni said: "They showed they really wanted to win it and the just put the effort together.

The kids did it on the field and really knuckled in.

"It's been an awesome time. I hope it continues as Rippa is a great game for boys and girls. Kids who don't play rugby, they just love it so I hope it grows. It's a great tournament, so many kids haven’t been on a plane before or been to Wellington so it’s good for them to come down and represent their school and Auckland. They have loved it."

200 year five and six boys and girls from 20 schools across New Zealand took part in the third annual Rippa Rugby Championship at Wakefield Park after qualifying from regional tournaments earlier in the year.

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. The games are seven minutes each way.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew thanked teachers, parents and caregivers at the prize giving and had a simple message for all players.

"There is nothing better in life than being in a team, making some mates, meeting new people and competing really hard and doing your very best. Now that we are in the Olympics, we have a very good opportunity for our boys and girls to play at the very highest level. Keep it up, keep working hard, but make sure you keep having fun."

The tournament took place with the support of New Zealand Community Trust, New Zealand Rugby's Major Global Sponsor AIG and Principal Partner adidas.

Tomorrow, older players get a chance to show their Rippa Rugby skills at a triangular tournament at Parliament between teams representing New Zealand Rugby, Parliament and Wellington Rugby. The games kick off at 3.30pm on the front lawn of Parliament.