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Hamilton Boys' HS have the strongest case as the world's best rugby school

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

Hamilton Boys’ High School has claimed the 2023 Sanix World Rugby Youth title with a 28-22 victory over Higashi Fukuoaka High School, consolidating their credentials as the best rugby school worldwide.


With four triumphs, the most of any school at the tournament, Hamilton Boys have previously won the title in 2010, 2011, and 2014, two more than the next-best school, Paul Roos Gymnasium of South Africa, with two titles.

If one were to determine the world’s top school, the most reasonable approach would be to examine the trophies.

Hamilton Boys possesses more global silverware than any other 1st XV programme on the planet.

The Sanix World Rugby Youth 1st XV tournament, which has been in existence since the year 2000, has always been the long-standing pinnacle for New Zealand.

New Zealand schools can only participate in the Japan-based event by winning the national 1st XV title, which is a remarkable achievement in and of itself.

The country’s national champions advance to the Sanix tournament the following year, which often means that school leavers are absent and the squad is not as potent as it was.

Nonetheless, it guarantees that only those who earn the opportunity can participate.

The qualification system has paid off, with New Zealand schools winning 10 Sanix titles in total, more than any other nation, followed by South Africa with six, Australia with two, France with two, and Fiji with one.


The World Schools festival, a South African-born tournament that launched in 2018 that was held in Thailand last year, has only just begun to attract the best participants.

The first edition in 2018 held at Paarl Boys High saw Napier Boys HS and Christchurch Boys HS participate, while New Zealand’s 2017 national champions, Hastings Boys HS, went to Sanix instead.

Christchurch Boys HS were invited to the inaugural event only after spoiling Paarl Boys’ tour of New Zealand in 2017.

The South African school had beaten a handful of reputable schools on their pre-season tour, before being defeated 38-36 in a classic encounter by Chirstchurch Boys HS which ended a 43-game unbeaten streak for Paarl.


Despite beating Paarl, that year Christchurch were Canterbury champions but failed to make it out of the South Island final.

The 2022 World Schools Festival held in Thailand saw a number of strong rugby schools attend adding credibility to the title, which was ultimately claimed by Hamilton Boys.

This is the first time that a school has taken both World titles, ratifying the two events.

Hamilton Boys soundly beat a Grey College outfit which was said to be missing school leavers, which is unfortunately part and parcel of schoolboy rugby.

The school’s best 1st XV team is the team available on that particular day. If they wear the crest, they are expected to represent the school to the best of their ability.

There will never be perfect alignment that will find the two strongest schools at the perfect time.

Differing school year calendars across the Hemispheres, the prohibitive cost of sending schoolboys around the world, makes it a difficult task.

But there is no doubt that Hamilton Boys is the strongest programme in New Zealand and they now have the strongest case as the world’s best.

They aren’t the best every year, but no school has claimed as many national titles and as many world titles.

The ultimate test for Hamilton Boys would be a tour of South Africa to face the likes of Grey, Paarl Boys, Paarl Gym, Affies.

If one of the South African schools can make it out to New Zealand again, they must find a way to face a mix of Super 8 and Auckland 1A schools who are generally the strongest in the country.

But if schools can pull together the funding to make 1st XV fixtures happen, surely the national unions can.

A bi-annual representative fixture between the New Zealand schoolboys reps and the South African schoolboys, which has never occurred, would be a must-watch spectacle.

The travel commitment would only occur once every four years by alternating between host countries every two years, and a tour could feature warm-up games against provincial U18 rep sides before the schoolboy Test.

It would be the most anticipated schoolboy rugby fixture in the world.

The Australian schoolboys, who already play the New Zealand schools on an annual basis, could also be invited to make up a Tri-Nations series.

South African rugby likes to view itself as the brotherly rivals of New Zealand rugby.

That is simply not true. Outside of the All Blacks and Springboks clashes, what is there?

The two countries do not have strong enough ties at all levels of the game, especially after the Super Rugby teams bailed for Europe.

A representative schoolboy fixture between the countries would be cherished on both sides and settle the debate every two years.


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Pongo7 388 days ago

Why should HBHS travel to SA? SA should travel to NZ

Jmann 412 days ago

'Biannual' means twice in a year. The author is searching for the word 'Biennial' (once every 2 years).

Hamilton Boys have an excellent case as the world's best rugby school. But that Sannix event favours the Japanese teams with a soft draw for home teams and exceptionally, extremely poor officiating from the local refs.

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