WINGHAM lad Lachlan McCormick said an international fixture against Fiji this week was a great opportunity, but the visitors' reputation for speed and ball skills was evident early on.
THE Fijian Schoolboys XV had a convincing win over NSW Country Schoolboys at The Armidale School on Monday, taking the game at 74-10.
The game, the first schoolboy international to be held in Armidale for more than two decades, was fast paced and entertaining, with the Fijians' reputation for speed and toughness evident from their first try three minutes in. There would be another try two minutes later before a gleam of hope from the NSW Schoolboys outfit when Jack Arthur from Newcastle kicked a penalty. A short time later he had another opportunity. However when the ball bounced back off the goal posts, he caught it out wide to dive over the line for a try, which he subsequently converted.
However this was to be the final points on the board for NSW, while the Fijians stepped up the pace particularly in the second half.
McCormick, who played tighthead prop, said it was one of the toughest games of rugby he has played.
"They were fast and big, and were much better with the ball," McCormick said.
Team manager and NSW Country Schoolboys vice president Jim Pennington said despite the result, it was a great privilege for TAS and Armidale to host such a high-calibre fixture, the first schoolboy international in the north in decades.
"It was a great game, it was fast, a lot of ball movement, some beautiful tries scored. The country boys stood up incredibly well and it was just a terrific example of the best spirit of the game."
The fixture attracted some notable rugby figures, with NSW Waratah and Wallaby Paddy Ryan, former Wallaby and current Northern Suburb's coach Scott Fava and ARU's General Manager - Development Ben Whitaker making the trip to Armidale to attend a dinner on Sunday night.
Australian Schools executive officer Andrew Elliott thanked Armidale and TAS for hosting the fixture. "It's not often that we get to host an international fixture for Country Schools, and it's not about the result but the cultural experience for both the Fijians in seeing something of Australia, and also for our boys, and I'd like to thank Armidale and TAS for hosting it."