Ninety-nine years on and the Rankin Cup continues to be a highly contested Secondary Schools tournament for the top high school male students to compete in across New Zealand.
Auckland Grammar is a school that has frequently featured as a top contender for several years with the school winning the Rankin Cup an incredible 23 times over that 99-year period. The school has also produced numerous athletes who have gone on to represent at the Association, National Hockey League and New Zealand Junior and Senior levels – a great testament to their hockey program and their success to date. Having their own turf on school grounds has paid dividends by making it much easier to develop their students across many levels.
Talking with the 1st XI Assistant coach and head of hockey at Auckland Grammar School (AGS), Joseph Crooks, it is clear to see how a solid foundation can translate onto the turf and other sporting fields, “Grammar is traditionally a very strong sporting school in many codes. We have such large numbers which allows us to have great depth of sportsmen across the board”.
With a strong following of keen hockey players in the school and a number of “high quality, passionate coaches over so many years. This truly helps nurture talent and often is the difference between good teams and great teams”.
Having been involved with the team through assistant coaching AGS for his second year, Joseph describes 2018 as a “rebuilding year” where the team features a group of year 12 students along with several Year 11’s and a number of younger students which will create an opportunity for growth in the coming years. He mentioned when AGS won the Rankin Cup the teams included a “strong cohort of senior year 12 and 13 boys mixed with a sprinkle of young talent”.
When asked about his prediction for this year Joseph states “I think this year is really wide open. There are lots of really strong teams going around the entire country. It’s really hard to say who will be in the final as we have only seen a limited number of teams. However, my teams to watch are New Plymouth Boys’ High, St Kent’s College, St Andrew’s College and Westlake Boys’ High”.
As with any team there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes with Joseph giving a special mention to Ramesh Patel, Larne Edmeades, Jason Roberts, Aneesh Kesha and Manoj Daji who have all played a role in maintaining Grammar’s success in previous years.
Catch the action in Tauranga from the 3rd-8th of September where the top Secondary School Boys teams will battle it out for the Aon Rankin Cup and India shield. The schedule and results for the tournament can be found here.