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Virtual Rugby Puts Schools' Pride on the Line

Telecom Virtual Rugby Puts Schools’ Pride on the Line

It’s every rugby-playing schoolkid’s dream, winning the Air New Zealand Cup trophy. And in 2006 they could win their own version of it without even lacing up their boots.

But they will still need to register at and use a keen rugby brain to correctly pick each week’s results in this season’s Telecom Virtual Rugby competition.

The New Zealand Rugby Union-endorsed competition is New Zealand’s most popular online rugby game, with over 143,000 people registering for the last Telecom Virtual Rugby competition. This competition, however, differs from its predecessors – fans have to select the winning margins of matches in both the inaugural Air New Zealand Cup and the inaugural Heartland Championship.

New Zealand Rugby Union Manager of Sponsorship and Marketing, Fraser Holland, said the competition had been expanded this year to include a new trophy, new options to challenge friends and family, and the opportunity for fans to support the school of their choice.

“Telecom Virtual Rugby adds an extra edge to the onfield competitions, as people take on their friends and family - the rivalry can be as intense as the real thing on the field,” he said.

Telecom’s Kevin Bowler said the new Air New Zealand Cup and Heartland Championship provided the perfect excuse to up the ante for rugby fans.

“Telecom has long been a supporter of rugby in New Zealand and every year we continue to be staggered at how passionate Kiwis are about being involved in our national game.

“Our virtual rugby competitions have become the fodder of many a dinner table debate, email flurry and fierce office discussion.

“This year we wanted to make it even more exciting with the winner getting a $7000 replica trophy modelled on the Air New Zealand Cup. We have also injected some inter-school rivalry into the competition.”

Telecom Virtual Rugby players can have their points awarded to a secondary school of their choice. At the end of the competition the school with the highest average points score from their top 50 players will receive 5000 Telecom School Connection points to spend on ICT products and services. They will also get a session with one of the All Blacks’ high performance coaches.

Mr Bowler says he expects the inter-school rivalry to be fierce as many Kiwis are staunchly loyal to their former school or their children’s school. A leaderboard will keep players up-to-date on how their school is ranking.

This season, Dunston High School in Alexandra will benefit from the rugby wisdom of 2005 Virtual NPC champion Gair McSkimming, who’s an old boy of the school, as he seeks to defend his title.

Gair says the Air New Zealand Cup will be tough to call due to the introduction of new teams and he’s unsure if he will be able to repeat last year’s performance.

“There’s a lot of luck in it. You can be as much of a rugby fan as you want, but there’s a fair amount of luck involved.”

The North Harbour-dwelling Otago fan has in the past concentrated on researching the second and third division teams to decide his selections, which involves a fair amount of television viewing.

“I don’t think I watch that much, but my wife might disagree.”

His strategy won him a trip overseas and the championship title. This year ’s winner will receive business class tickets for two to watch the All Blacks play England on the end of year tour and a replica of the Air New Zealand Cup trophy.

Challenges between friends, families and colleagues are also set to heat up all over the country as new features in Telecom Virtual Rugby mean that once a player accepts a challenge from another, they can view every other player in that challenge. Previously they had to add all other involved players. Players can take part in as many challenges as they wish.


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