Tapawera Area School’s Clay Morgan was the first student from his school to make the Combined Waimea College First Fifteen and had such a successful season he was selected for the New Zealand Area Schools Rugby Team.
Preseason training for the Waimea team kicked off in early January and included gruelling runs up the steep Richmond Hills, which induced vomiting in a few of the players, including Clay.
Hitting their stride in the season, the team travelled to Christchurch regularly to take on a few of the bigger teams such as St Thomas Christ’s College and with some close games against St Andrews and St Bede’s, by mid-season the team had won 2 from 7 games.
“It has been a very cool experience being in such a top-level competition. A highlight for me was probably putting on the jersey every week.
“It was a privilege to represent the Combined School Team,” says Clay.
On September 11, Clay travelled to Palmerston North to join the others selected for the New Zealand Area Schools rugby team.
With the chance to hone his tackling and kicking skills prior to their game against the Manawatu U16 representative team, Clay went into the game with increased confidence.
And, although they lost 31-17, Clay says the entire experience was “amazing”.
“The coaches were committed to us, they made use of the little time that they had with us, to teach us and establish relationships. The trip was great, and I am looking forward to next year.”
Clay will once again trial for the Waimea Combined team in 2019 and hopes to receive his cap for 25 games.