Te Wharau, Cobham in Weka Ball action

They had their day in the sun.

Cobham may not have taken the Weka Ball — Poverty Bay primary school rugby’s equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield — off Te Wharau, but a marvellous mix of speed, skill and camaraderie ensured everyone had a good time.

Primary 1 champions Te Wharau — Weka Ball holders for the past four years — won the game by 10 tries. The 11-a-side tradition since 1966 has been that scoring is by tries only, with no age or weight restrictions. It was Te Wharau’s sixth and last defence of the season.

Primary 3 champions Cobham had a team ranging from Year 3 to Year 6. Scoreline aside, they tasted the action of Weka Ball rugby — a unique and unforgettable experience.

Year 6 Cobham student and team captain Kaveinga Tatafu, 11, said he was proud of his team.

They had trained hard, gone out into the community and shown their values.

“What we’d practised all season, we did on the field,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Te Wharau for accepting our challenge . . . giving us a chance to have a go.”

Te Wharau were led by classy Kahurangi Leach-Waihi, who scored a hat-trick, and teammate Devon Waititi-Leach got a double.

Cory Reihana, the holders’ sole coach in the absence of TK Moeke, said he thought his players were “amazing”.

“They tackled hard, they ran hard and they stuck to the game plan,” he said.

James Wilson, who coaches Cobham with Blue Light charity chairman Constable Sam Cairns, has every reason to be proud of his team. Sariah Houia and Steven Wereta featured in the challengers’ courageous showing. Four times Cobham got to within a metre of the goal-line.

Wilson said this was his team’s first experience of competitive interschool rugby outside Saturday competition.

“Kaveinga carried the ball strongly, Cruze Robinson showed composure at first five-eighth, and Faith Keiaho and Tumu Parata tackled courageously in the outside channels,” he said.

Enisi Tatafu made some storming runs up the middle and our Year 3 girl Lafo Tatafu turned ball over and facilitated play with real confidence.”

Cobham principal Teresa Scott recognises the significance of the Weka Ball as a force for good.

“To watch my tamariki (children) give their all was heartwarming,” she said.

“I could see their effort, aspirations, commitment. We have a mixed team who love rugby and they put everything they had into that game. They played with determination and have become players our school is proud of.”

Former Poverty Bay senior representative Cairns, who coaches the Gisborne Boys’ High School second 15 and managed the Poverty Bay under-16s, was impressed: “The Cobham kids made some strong runs and tackles, and never gave up, even with Te Wharau scoring tries.

“And Te Wharau aren’t just good players; they’re good people. They were good on and off the field, and carry themselves as champions.”

They had their day in the sun.

Cobham may not have taken the Weka Ball — Poverty Bay primary school rugby’s equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield — off Te Wharau, but a marvellous mix of speed, skill and camaraderie ensured everyone had a good time.

Primary 1 champions Te Wharau — Weka Ball holders for the past four years — won the game by 10 tries. The 11-a-side tradition since 1966 has been that scoring is by tries only, with no age or weight restrictions. It was Te Wharau’s sixth and last defence of the season.

Primary 3 champions Cobham had a team ranging from Year 3 to Year 6. Scoreline aside, they tasted the action of Weka Ball rugby — a unique and unforgettable experience.

Year 6 Cobham student and team captain Kaveinga Tatafu, 11, said he was proud of his team.

They had trained hard, gone out into the community and shown their values.

“What we’d practised all season, we did on the field,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Te Wharau for accepting our challenge . . . giving us a chance to have a go.”

Te Wharau were led by classy Kahurangi Leach-Waihi, who scored a hat-trick, and teammate Devon Waititi-Leach got a double.

Cory Reihana, the holders’ sole coach in the absence of TK Moeke, said he thought his players were “amazing”.

“They tackled hard, they ran hard and they stuck to the game plan,” he said.

James Wilson, who coaches Cobham with Blue Light charity chairman Constable Sam Cairns, has every reason to be proud of his team. Sariah Houia and Steven Wereta featured in the challengers’ courageous showing. Four times Cobham got to within a metre of the goal-line.

Wilson said this was his team’s first experience of competitive interschool rugby outside Saturday competition.

“Kaveinga carried the ball strongly, Cruze Robinson showed composure at first five-eighth, and Faith Keiaho and Tumu Parata tackled courageously in the outside channels,” he said.

Enisi Tatafu made some storming runs up the middle and our Year 3 girl Lafo Tatafu turned ball over and facilitated play with real confidence.”

Cobham principal Teresa Scott recognises the significance of the Weka Ball as a force for good.

“To watch my tamariki (children) give their all was heartwarming,” she said.

“I could see their effort, aspirations, commitment. We have a mixed team who love rugby and they put everything they had into that game. They played with determination and have become players our school is proud of.”

Former Poverty Bay senior representative Cairns, who coaches the Gisborne Boys’ High School second 15 and managed the Poverty Bay under-16s, was impressed: “The Cobham kids made some strong runs and tackles, and never gave up, even with Te Wharau scoring tries.

“And Te Wharau aren’t just good players; they’re good people. They were good on and off the field, and carry themselves as champions.”

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