L to R: Tom Ruwhiu and Tyler Tapa-Wither ready to represent Canterbury in the Under 14’s Touch Tournament recently held in Oamaru.

Representing Canterbury in Touch


Playing Touch for their local teams has paid off for thirteen year olds, Tyler Tapa-Wither and  Tom Ruwhiu, both of whom were recently selected to play for the Canterbury Under 14’s touch rugby team.

Both boys have been playing touch for a couple of years, and had their start in school teams. Tom also had some time playing for the Prebbleton Development team, Years 5 and 6, and he played in the Inter Module Tournament. The two have since moved to Club teams, with Tyler currently playing for the Burnham Club and Tom joining Simon Moriarty’s team ‘Touch n Go’. This has seen them  playing in the Prebbleton and Rolleston Touch Modules for their respective teams. Playing in these teams, which in turn made them eligible to participate in the Canterbury trials, has enabled them to achieve outstanding results.

“I first trialled for Canterbury Under 13’s two years ago and missed out,” Tom explained.  “Then last year I tried again making the Canterbury Under 14’s Development Team. This was a fantastic experience as the team came second in the South Island Inter Provincial Series. This year I trialled again hoping to make the Canterbury Under 14 A team (Red) and I was extremely excited when I did.”

This was the first year that Tyler had trialled for the Canterbury touch team, “trials were two days of hard out touch games,” Tyler explained. “I was really thrilled to be selected into the team and feel honoured to be representing Canterbury Touch for the first time,” he enthused. “I’ve already learnt so much from our two great coaches and to date my touch skills have really progressed well.”

Tryouts were not something new to Tyler, as he has been a Canterbury Country Rugby representative and an Ellesmere Rugby representative for the last two years.

The boys get together, alongside their other Under 14 team members for an hour and a half practice on a Friday night, as well as on a Sunday morning.

“As a member of the team it is important to look after yourself,” Tom explained. “Personally, I have to keep fit and train with the team twice a week. Furthermore I need to nurse any

injuries I might sustain properly, so they doesn’t hold me back from games.”

The team has just finished competing in the Southern Zone Tournament against Otago, Southland and Queenstown in Oamaru.

“The final game was a drop out final, this is where players drop down from six to five then four every few minutes, until there is a result,” explained Melanie Tapa, Tyler’s mother. “It was very nerve racking to watch, the stand were all on their feet screaming for Canterbury,” she said. “Though the game went down to the wire, Canterbury beat Otago with a score of four points to three.”

Tom and Tyler are both looking forward to competing at Burnside Park as part of the South Island Inter Provincial Series to be held on December 16th and 17th.

“I really enjoy playing in tournaments,” Tom commented and Tyler agreed, “the trip away with the boys was so much fun and being part of this team has meant that we’ve met a lot of great guys,” the pair concluded.