Opinion, Sport

Best of the best – choosing the top MBC First XV of the professional era no easy task

Anton Oliver has been named to lead the MBC First XV. Photo: Supplied.

Soon after Nelson College won the 2019 UC Championship, a group of Nelson rugby folk were inspired to put their heads together in a bid to come up with a team containing the greatest 1st XV players from that famous school, comprised of those who played in the modern era, post-1995.

In the spirit of the festive season, and just for the hell of it, I have endeavoured to repeat the exercise for Marlborough Boys’ College, with a little help of course from some learned rugby followers on this side of the hill.

Leon MacDonald slots in at fullback for MBC. Photo: Shuttersport.
Leon MacDonald slots in at fullback for MBC. Photo: Shuttersport.

Obviously, in such a formidable rugby school, selection was extremely difficult – especially in positions such as hooker and first five where MBC have produced a string of top players.

However, with some mixing and matching position-wise, we have come up with a side that would surely prove far too good for the Nelson College outfit, MBC possessing hard-nosed physicality up front, plus superior skills and pace out the back.

Having five All Blacks in the MBC mix hints at the quality of the side, and how tough it was to make the cut for the chosen XV. Leading the side will be former All Blacks skipper Anton Oliver, who has been chosen at No 8, the position he filled with such aplomb at MBC.

Joe Wheeler has been chosen at lock. Photo: Shuttersport.
Joe Wheeler has been chosen at lock. Photo: Shuttersport.

To ensure the playing field is [relatively] level for a hypothetical matchup with Nelson College, former MBC head boy and World Cup referee Ben O’Keeffe would be on the whistle, with former MBC teacher Kieran Keane coaching the MBC combination.

Without further ado, here are the greatest Marlborough Boys’ College and Nelson College 1st XVs of the modern era:

 

Marlborough Boys’ College

  1. Atu Moli (All Black)
  2. Quentin MacDonald (NZ Maori)
  3. Hamish Cochrane (NZ under-20)
  4. Joe Wheeler (Highlanders, NZ Maori)
  5. Jamie Joseph (All Black)
  6. Vernon Fredericks (Crusaders)
  7. Braden Stewart (Tasman)
  8. Anton Oliver (All Black) – captain
  9. Toby Morland (Highlanders, Chiefs, Blues)
  10. Jeremy Manning (Newcastle, Munster)
  11. Hayden Pedersen (Highlanders, NZ Maori)
  12. David Hill (All Black)
  13. Aaron Bancroft (Highlanders)
  14. Kade Poki (Crusaders, Highlanders)
  15. Leon MacDonald (All Black)

 

Nelson College

  1. Wyatt Crockett (All Black)
  2. Ratu Vugakoto (Fiji)
  3. Sak Taulafo (Samoa)
  4. Quinn Strange (Crusaders, NZ Schools)
  5. Kahu Marfell (NZ U19)
  6. Anton Segner (NZ Schools)
  7. Tevita Koloamatangi (Tonga)
  8. Ita Vaea (Brumbies)
  9. Mitch Drummond (All Black)
  10. Mitch Hunt (Crusaders)
  11. Leicester Fainga’anuku (Crusaders, NZ Schools)
  12. David Havili (All Black)
  13. Tom Marshall (Crusaders, Chiefs,)
  14. James Lowe (NZ Maori)
  15. James Marshall (NZ Sevens)

 

As the Nelson side’s selectors [Peter Grigg, Kahu Marfell and Andrew Goodman] suggested, “selecting a team such as this is an art, not a science”.

“There are numerous players with outstanding credentials and this selection is a very subjective exercise. We apologise to anybody we have offended with non-selection but are willing to discuss them over appropriate refreshments.”

The same qualifying terms apply on this side of the hill … let the debate begin.

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