GREY Junior won the match 31-12, but the rugby result was secondary as South African and New Zealand boys bridged the cultural divide when New Zealand’s East Coast Bays Rugby Club junior side visited the Mill Park school yesterday.
An explanation and demonstration of the New Zealand haka was matched by choir and musical performances from the host pupils as the visitors spent several hours at the school.
The reaction from both sides was that it was a wonderful experience for all, with the Grey boys enjoying meeting their New Zealand counterparts and the tourists appreciating the hospitality as they joined the classrooms for a few periods and were given a tour around the Grey campus.
“I think they had a fantastic time,” Grey Junior principal Lindsay Pearson said. “They seemed to really enjoy it, and they were exposed to a range of things at Grey Junior. We had the concert band playing and the choir sang, and then they were split up into groups and joined in the classroom. I think it was really worthwhile.”
Asked if there was camaraderie between the boys, Pearson said the Grey pupils had been keen to meet the New Zealanders.
“The boys were very keen on meeting each other and they were intrigued with the haka, which they did in assembly, and the chap who led the haka explained what it was all about,” he said.
East Coast Bays coach Brad Seaman was paying a visit to old haunts, having been educated at Grey.
He matriculated in 1991 and left for New Zealand in 1997, and this was his first visit to his home town in 12 years.
It’s been wonderful,” he said. “Some things haven’t changed, and some things have changed incredibly, but the traditions at Grey are still the same.
“There has been tremendous camaraderie among the boys and that happens with sporting people, you have a common bond. One of our mothers popped into a classroom for a while and fielded all sorts of questions, so it’s been great.”
Grey led 21-0 at halftime, but the East Coast Bays came back strongly to score two fine tries in the second half, while the home side added two more tries themselves.