St Edmund's grab crown at long last
FOR 15 long years, the St Edmund's College Rugby fraternity has waited for this moment.
It was in 1999 that the Associated Independent Colleges rugby union competition began and St Edmund's have strived to be stand-alone First XV champions since.
They have come close. In 2011, they shared the trophy with two other teams.
But this year's unbeaten season and championship is unprecedented.
Last year the team was in the running until a heavy loss to Iona College dashed their hopes.
That helped steel the resolve of the likes of the Riverview-based captain and fullback Clifton Setu to ensure there was no repeat this time.
"It meant a lot to the boys," he said of claiming the title this year.
"We all did our individual jobs and that helped us as a team."
The sentiments were echoed by number eight Archie Taylor.
It was Taylor's first season in the team. "It was good to be the first team from the school to win the title by themselves," said the soon-to-turn 16-year-old from Fernvale.
Taylor said it was teamwork that got St Eddies through and there was suspicion the boys had been reading from the same pre-written speech.
But head coach David Miles insists it really was the selfless team effort that got them through the tough games.
"Just across the park - to the man, they played their part," Miles said.
"We've had teams with individual stars before.
"But in this team, everyone knew their role and they performed it very well and played for each other."
For Miles, it was the culmination of a five-year-mission to reach the pinnacle of AIC rugby.
But just as satisfying for the coach is knowing his teams have the most successful win record in the Firsts competition since 2010.
"It shows it's not a one-off, but that there's ongoing development there," Miles said.
"Next year's group are looking strong too, with eight of this year's team in year 11 this year."
The quality of the team was further demonstrated with nine players selected in AIC and Chairman's selection teams.
They will contest with the best from the GPS and CSS competitions for state spots today and tomorrow.