Hautapu Sports has often been a reputable rugby club for producing top of the line players – but this year the local club has even topped itself, now with a record number of rugby players to have made representative teams in a single year.
In 2017 eighteen Hautapu players have made both regional representative teams and even national teams.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Liam Messam top the table as the cream of the crop – Tawera making it on to the team of all teams – the All Blacks, and Liam being made Captain of the Maori All Blacks. Both players have also made it onto the Chiefs.
Ryan Coxon, Sam Caird, Ciarahn Matoe and Luke Jacobson have all made it on to the NZ Under 20 team, with Luke as Captain.
Luke is joined by his brother Mitch, along with Sam and Tawera, in making the Waikato team, along with Ayden Johnson and Sekopi Moli.
Ryan Coxon has also made the Tasman team, and Todd Doolan made North Harbour.
Peni Rokoduguni and Alex Graham were named on the 2017 Waikato Development team, and Bradley Slater, Ciarahn Matoe and Tom Florence made the Taranaki Under 19 squad.
And in the Waikato Under 19 team, Laghlan McWhannell, Nico Aandewiel, Ben Engles and Sheldon Tovio were named, as well as Jacob Norris as Captain.
It almost seems as if there’s something in the water at the Hautapu clubrooms, but Hautapu Rugby’s head coach Craig Stevenson says it’s a trend for the wider Cambridge area as a whole.
“Most of the (Hautapu) lads (to make rep. teams) are from the local area, which is fantastic… it’s not just when they’ve joined the club that they’ve excelled, they’ve done really well in their school first fifteens as well… so it’s quite exciting that we’ve got that and long may it continue!” Craig says.
“There are also a lot of players at our club who haven’t made a rep team but have really improved as well, like the Development team winning their competition for the second year in a row – there were only six players, I think, who were from the year before, so that means there a lot of players that came in that were new that put their hands up and got the success as well.”
Plenty of young rugby players have joined the Hautapu club over the past year, to the point where it has actually reached a new record for the number of under 21 players at the club. In fact out of all of the clubs throughout the Waikato region, this season Hautapu has had the highest number of under 21 players. “We’ve got a lot of young fullas that have got a big future and hopefully will make the rep teams for a long time,” says Craig.
When pressed for their secret to success, Craig says it’s a culmination of things. “It’s a real team effort, but for me it’s really about our values… We want our guys to play for Hautapu first and foremost, we want them to focus on the here and the now first, and when they do that and work hard, the other selections will come.
“And our team culture is really important, we like to make sure that everyone has a say and that they’re all treated equally, that’s certainly what we try to strive for.
“And we’ve got a good team of other coaches that help in terms of our skill levels and what have you, so its not one particular thing, it’s a whole group of things, so I guess that’s why we’ve had such success.”
Craig also credits Cambridge’s booming population as a contributor to their growing prosperity. “The Cambridge population is getting bigger and bigger, there’s a lot of people that are coming into the town from outside or overseas, so the good thing about that is there’s opportunities going forward.”
Next year Hautapu will add an Under 21 team to their line up. “It’s going to be great,” Craig says. “The future looks really good.”