History of schools rugby competition

E.L. Boladuadua,Raiwai, Suva | Saturday, August 12, 2017
The New Zealand Maori rugby team's first tour to the Pacific was to Fiji in 1938.

They played five matches including three Tests. The three Test matches were played within eight days, on August 20, 24 and 27.

Fiji won the first 11-5, the second was drawn 3-3, and the third was won by the visitors 6-3.

It was at the end of this tour that the manager of the Maori team, Mr S.S. Dean, gave a magnificent silver trophy in the form of a rugby ball to the FRU to be competed for among the senior teams in the Fiji secondary schools competition.

The first year of the Deans competition was in 1939, and was won by QVS, then based at Nasinu. There was no RKS or LMS then.

RKS slowly developed to be a contender in the late 1950s and in 1961 won the Deans Trophy for the first time.

I believe the only time a school won all the grades in the Schools Finals was in 1955. LMS won the Midgets — 15 years and up to 98 pounds weight, juniors — 17 years and 126 lbs, intermediates — 18 years and 154 lbs, and seniors — 18-20 years.

The schools finals in August 1958 were cancelled because of a disease outbreak around the country.

The good showing at home of the Fijians against the 1938 Maoris was a good prelude to what would happen the following year when our national team toured New Zealand.

Midway through the 1939 tour, after the fourth game, World War II broke out in Europe.

The colonial government wanted the team to return but records show that the demand from the NZ rugby public was so great that the tour carried on, and out of the eight matches they won seven and drew one!

They therefore remain as the only team to tour NZ undefeated.

As we celebrate the 78th year of the Deans Trophy history, we salute the toil and struggle of the current players and coaches and those who went before them.

When we take time to look at the list of national reps from the 1940s onwards, one cannot fail to recognise the important part played by the schools competition, culminating in the Deans final, in the nurturing and development of our young people in the field of sports and beyond.

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