allblacks.com 14.Sep.2012Getty Images
The Year Five and Six primary schools boys and girls made the 6-hour trip round trip from Arrowtown as special guests of the All Blacks for today’s Captain’s Run in Dunedin.
As the All Blacks look forward to the Test against South Africa, Arrowtown School have their own ‘championship’ on Monday to prepare for – The Rippa Rugby Championship 2012.
Paul Winders, coach of the Arrowtown Rippa team said seeing the All Blacks going through their paces provided great incentive for the team in advance of the Wellington tournament getting underway. “The kids were stoked with the opportunity to get up close with their All Blacks heroes. If representing Otago in Wellington wasn’t exciting enough, meeting the All Blacks was the icing on the cake.”
The Rippa Rugby Championship 2012 is the follow-up to last year’s successful Rippa 2011 World Cup, which Arrowtown were finalists in.
NZRU General Manager Community and Provincial Union Rugby Brent Anderson said the national tournament recognised the increasing popularity of Rippa Rugby and provided children with an incredible goal to aim for.
“The popularity of Rippa Rugby has grown year on year since being introduced, with 78,500 kids registered to play in 2012 – 14 per cent more than the previous year.
“This tournament is a once in a lifetime experience for 200 New Zealand kids to participate in their very own Provincial Championship, alongside the ITM Cup and Heartland Championship, while also making a raft of new friendships and having heaps of fun.
Teams will play in four pools, then quarter-finals, semi-finals, bronze-final and final (similar to Rugby World Cup format).
Whau Valley Primary School from Whangarei won the Rippa World Cup 2011 representing New Zealand, while five teams from the Rippa World Cup have qualified for The Rippa Rugby Championship 2012 (Lepperton (Taranaki), Arrowtown (Otago), Roscommon (Counties Manukau), Riverdale (Manawatu) and Richmond (Tasman).
Rippa Rugby finalists will arrive in Wellington on Sunday 16 September and be met at the airport by popular children’s rugby education character Rugger.
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.