Hika’s first impressions of rugby at Cranbrook

In my career I’ve faced up to many challenges, but I’ll admit standing on Big Side and seeing 70 boys coming up over the brow of the hill for that first games sessions, I did feel daunted for a second by the task ahead. Much thanks must go to your Master of Rugby, Tom Hillier, and his team and parent, James Rutter, as together we were able to navigate our way through the haze of raw energy and accomplish small increments of progress with each training session. Tom and I worked on developing an effective attacking and defensive structure, individual skills, a strong work ethic and consistent, safe training methods across the age groups, resulting in a coaching system that’s allowed us to focus on and come up with ideas for every single boy.

Sport can teach your boys so many life lessons and equip them with the mental and physical skills that they’ll need as young men. When asked recently what I wanted the boys to achieve, I know the parent was asking about wins or trophies, but my key aim is to build them into a ‘good team’, to be great buddies, to enjoy camaraderie and to know how to play with skill, but safely.

I can see that a tremendous amount of time and effort by you, the parents and supporters, has gone into creating a positive rugby culture at Cranbrook. The pavilion at Big Side, transformed through parents’ financial support, is now Rugby HQ – a great facility to support the boys’ training and a base that the teams can feel proud of. And with the new floodlighting, we’ve been able to get the most out of these new facilities with extended after school training. Your support, in so many ways, is vital and of course I should add that your match teas are fantastic! With this level of support going forward, I know Big Side will be a formidable fortress in seasons to come.

The past term has flown by and there’s still so much we want to do, but already I can see boys who had never played rugby starting to love it and those that started by standing at the back now coming forward as leaders. I look forward to continuing our climb from Base Camp to the Summit. I’m confident we’ll make it.

Hika Reid (Hika the Hooker from Ngongotaha) – Hika played in 40 matches for the New Zealand All Blacks, before embarking on a 30 year coaching career.