Ryan Barnes is proving to be a match winner for Christchurch Boys’ High School after thinking he had played his last match for the school following a tear to his hamstring in May.
On Saturday the 17-year-old winger scored a hat-trick as CBHS defeated Otago Boys’ High School 29-26.
A week earlier he returned for the first time since the hamstring tear when he came off the bench to score a crucial late try to level their final with Christ’s College 18-18 and grant CBHS the UC Championship.
“I was told I was probably going to need surgery and it would be quite a long term thing,” said Barnes.
“Initially I was just grateful to be able to play for Boys’ High again so it was pretty unreal really.”
Barnes’ hat-trick in his 40th match for the first XV will see CBHS travel to Palmerston North today to compete at the 1st XV National Championships for the first time since 2014.
“Obviously in the last few years the South Island representatives have struggled up there, but there’s definitely a belief within our team that we have the ability to go up there and win,” said Barnes.
The South Island win also came with a sense of justice for Barnes after losing 31-36 to Southland Boys’ High School last year when SBHS scored a winning try many believe came well after the full-time whistle should have been blown.
It’s not just on the rugby field that Barnes’ has had success.
In 2016 Barnes qualified for the final of the final of the senior boys 100m sprint at the New Zealand secondary schools athletics championships.
He was the youngest athlete in the field where he placed seventh.
He also recorded a personal best of 11.15secs over 100m last year.
Barnes admits that athletics is supplementary to his rugby commitments.
However, he plans to get on the track this coming summer and believes there are parallels between the two sports.
“With me not being the biggest guy out there on the field I need to try and find some other strengths so my athletics and sprinting in particular are a massive help on the field,” said Barnes.
He now hopes that speed can come in handy in what will be his biggest match for the school. CBHS play Napier Boys’ High School tomorrow for a chance to play in Sunday’s final.
CBHS have won three national titles which came on the trot from 2004-2006.
Meanwhile, Rangiora High School will compete in the top four co-ed national finals after defeating Gore High School 42-17 at the weekend.
They play Feilding High School on Thursday for a chance to progress to Sunday’s final.