Charter plane for high-flying team

It has probably been a little more sophisticated than a whip-around with a spare first XV cap.

The John McGlashan College rugby team has been given a boost before the South Island final in Nelson this weekend.

Finding a commercial flight to fit in with tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off proved impossible – and nobody relished the idea of ​​a 760km bus trip – so the school and its supporters, parents and sponsors have chipped in to charter a flight.

“We’ve been very lucky,” coach Russell Lundy said before he and the team got on the Air Chathams flight yesterday.

“The whole school community has got behind the team. Commercial flights were unavailable but we’ve managed to do some fund-raising to get up there.”

Johnnies have had to be patient since their dramatic 36-27 win over Southland Boys’ in the Highlanders final.

The flooding chaos in Nelson forced the Crusaders final, between Nelson College and St Bede’s, to be postponed by a week.

Nelson claimed its third title in four years with a 45-19 win at the weekend.

“We haven’t really thought about it [the delay] as good or bad – it is what it is, and it was unavoidable, “Lundy said.

“It gave us a week that we had to manage but I don’t think it is going to disadvantage us at all.

“The boys are very excited. We had a good session on Tuesday night and they’re just really wanting to get under way now.”

Nelson arguably starts as a warm favorite given its recent pedigree plus home advantage.

But Johnnies have earned the right to fight for a place in the national top four and will be giving it everything.

“They’ve been on TV a bit this year so I saved those replays on the off-chance we might come up against them,” Lundy said.

“They’re a very strong team, obviously. Any team that wins that Canterbury competition is going to be strong.

“They seem pretty well balanced, and they’re strong right across the field, so we’ll just have to head up there and have a go.”

McGlashan has had a charmed run with injuries this season.

All players are available, and Lundy has named an unchanged team for the South Island final.

“We thought long and hard about making some changes, because our bench made a massive impact in that Southland game.

“But we try not to think of starters and subs. It’s all about who can make the best impact with what they’ve got.”

The game was originally scheduled for 11.05am tomorrow but will now kick off at 12.05pm and screen live on Sky Sport.

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