By Niall Anderson
The National Top Four starts today in Rotorua, showcasing the best rugby schools from New Zealand, with Hamilton Boys High School, Christchurch Boys High School, Auckland Grammar School and Scots College facing off to determine who earns the illustrious title of national champion.
At the same time, the ITM Cup is hitting full flight, with a vast array of players from all over the country getting their opportunity to push for higher honours, with many fulfilling goals that were originally created when playing amongst their school environment.
Putting aside the obvious distinction that schools aren’t meant to be judged on the status of their rugby team, out of curiosity, I wanted to know – which high school has the current tag of being the best rugby factory? While statistics are abundant for the rates of All Blacks coming out of particular colleges, the data on ITM Cup players is far harder to track, and provides a bigger sample of players to judge the effectiveness of rugby education provided.
To do so, I threw myself into the avalanche of data, sifting through a mix of official team website which range from excellent to appalling, rustling through archives and even doing the odd stalk of a Facebook page to get the information I needed. Of course, there were one or two players of whom information couldn’t be found, but the internet is a powerful tool, and I managed to compile a fairly comprehensive list.
Considered in the statistical set are players who were named in ITM Cup squads this season, and with that including what is believed to be all of the current All Blacks, it is a fair indicator as to judging a school’s production line.
So, which school reigned supreme at moulding ITM Cup-level rugby players?
The answer is Christchurch Boys’ High School, whose dominance of the Canterbury squad sees them end with 22 alumni playing at ITM Cup level, narrowly edging out my alma mater, Hamilton Boys High School, who have 21. A surprising contender – Palmerston North Boys High School, also rated well, having 19 ITM Cup players, forming a large portion of the Manawatu squad.
Here is the Top 10:
Christchurch Boys’ High School 22
Hamilton Boys High School 21
Palmerston North Boys 19
St Kentigern College 12
Wesley College 12
Nelson College 11
Otago Boys High School 11
Southland Boys High School 10
Sacred Heart College 10
Mount Albert Grammar School 10
Interested where your alma mater ranked? Surprised at an omission from the top 10? Shoot me a line on Twitter @NiallGunner or in the comments and I’ll let you know!