Hastings - From Zero to Hero.
The first time Hastings Boys' High School appeared on Land Rover First XV rugby was in 2011 and they were beaten 0-45 by Gisborne Boys' High School.
Hastings didn't feature again until 2014 when they lost again to St Patrick’s College, Silverstream. However 2014 was the start of their upward ascent. Joe Walding-Karaitiana was a key figure in driving their improvement. This outstanding young man was First XV captain in 2014 and is now based in Wellington playing for the MSP club, studying at Victoria University and working for Red Bull. Sky Sport College Rugby caught up with Joe in 2014 and reading the article below today provides some insight into Joe’s impact on Hastings rugby and how much Hastings have improved in the last four seasons.
Hastings Improving The Hard Way
Between 2006 and 2013 the Super 8 record of the Hastings Boys’ High School First XV was awful, bloody awful!
Hastings played 56 games in this period and lost 53 times by an average score of 38-10! Hastings lost 33 consecutive games between 2005 and 2010!
In 2013, Hastings was trounced 71-21 at the Gully by New Plymouth Boys’ High School. Joe Walding-Karaitiana cast a forlorn figure that day. Joe was seriously disillusioned about the state of Hastings rugby.
“That game was the worst feeling I have ever had in rugby, it was embarrassing. The Year 13’s didn’t like been told some home truths and the whole motivation of the team was absent,” he says.
Joe was a member of the 2010 Hastings junior rugby academy class. The program started in 2009 and three key members of the 2014 team, Mason Kean, Harlan Solomon and Ash Robinson were foundation members. First XV coach Tony McBride expands on the importance of the academy:
“In the past we would not have attracted players of this calibre to our school. The academy has meant we have increased the number of students at our school, but more importantly the quality of rugby players. The academy focuses on not just ability, but also values. Joe was named best player in both the years he was in the academy.”
Kudos from the academy was scant consolation to the bustling hooker throughout 2013. Joe explains just how bad things were for the First XV.
“The whole culture of the team was wrong. I can remember some days at training where only six boys would show up. In the pre-season - that started last year - a few of the Year 12 boys got together and decided we would take ownership of the team culture. We would work harder than we had done before.”
In 2014 Joe was named captain of the First XV and head prefect at the college. The First XV pre-season suggested that they would be stronger than they had been for some time.
Notable wins were achieved against Wellington College and Kelston Boys’ High School and last-minute defeats were suffered against eventual Wellington finalists, Scots College and St. Patrick’s College, Silverstream. In 2013 Hastings lost to those two schools by more than fifty points!
Joe says the victory against Kelston was really important. “We hadn’t beaten an Auckland school for a long-time so to do that gave us a lot of belief, especially given we didn’t play that well.”
The biggest game of the season for Hastings is the Hawke’s Bay First XV championship against Napier Boys’ High School. Win this fixture and a place at the National Top Four can be achieved. Before 2014, the last time Hastings had won the Napier game was in 2004! Joe recalls June 14, the day that Hastings at last beat Napier again.
“We won an awesome game 27-17. It was really competitive, but I always felt we had it under control. Everybody played well that day and at full time the relief and joy was amazing”
Joe had never beaten a Napier team in his time at Hastings. At Under-15 level he played in 0-43 and 0-48 defeats. In 2013 the First XV suffered a record 10-60 defeat!
Since ending the Napier drought Hastings have gone onto to win a further two games in the Super 8 against Tauranga Boys’ College, 39-23 and New Plymouth Boys’ High School, 69-0. More significantly however Hastings held National Champions, Hamilton Boys’ High School to a 17-17 draw!
Hastings results in the Super 8 are their best since 2005. Had Hastings not lost to Palmerston North and Rotorua in the last minute on Joe’s 18th birthday they might have even made the Super 8 final. Joe admits concentration lapses have been an issue this season.
“When we are switched on we have shown we can compete against any team in the country, but sometimes we just lose the plot. In the Rotorua game we conceded two tries in the last two minutes, we just have to improve our focus.”
A big focus for Joe this year was the Hastings development rugby tour of South Africa. In the term two holidays a squad of 28 players, including six members of the First XV, toured the republic and played four games. The results were pleasing with three wins achieved.
The only defeat was suffered against Paarl Boys’ High School in Capetown, 23-15; Paarl contested the Sanix World Youth championship final in Japan. The tour cost each player $4,200.
Joe says the highlights of the tour were a safari, the visit to poverty stricken children in Soweto and the haka performed on King’s Park in Durban to the Highlanders after they played the Sharks in a Super Rugby playoff match.
First XV coach Tony McBride elaborated on the impact that Joe has had at Hastings this year.
“Joe is a very impressive young man. He has the boys full respect. He is approachable and honest, but is prepared to do the hard yards. He is humble and listens to advice which is rare in modern youngsters.”
Hastings narrowly lost to Palmerston North Boys’ High School in the Hurricanes semi-finals, but it was their best season in a decade.
Joe was disappointed to miss out on selection for the Hurricanes under-18 camp, but he says he is proud of Hastings season. The Gully is ancient history now!
Posts made by Magpie_in_aus
RE: 2017 School Rugby
Hastings - From Zero to Hero.
RE: 2017 School Rugby
@Stargazer it was crazy the whole 2nd half hastings was in hamiltons 22 for that one lineout maul. The D was amazing from both teams in that second half. Not having their usual halfback would have been a blow for hastings the other one was pretty slow and erratic. Well done hastings.
RE: Magpies 2017
@Stargazer In all seriousness though is Karl Lowe injured or something? He has been still playing top level and is now back in the bay. Surprised he wasn't selected anyway. Need to call Trent back up and tell him to cut his OE down and come back and play. Shoemark I reckon could still get the vocal cords on full bore with a last minute try or assist. How nice would a buckman/shoemark/emerson(or Mcnicol) 12/13/Wing be.
Can't see Dan unretiring after retiring from head knocks. Maybe bring Adam Brady back in as utility bench spot covering 6-15