Dilworth ups the ante in sport

Date: 10 May 2023

Dilworth is rapidly carving its place as a school of sporting excellence thanks to an ambitious new growth strategy that’s already beating expectations.

A newly launched high performance sport programme gives students the chance to pursue excellence - and potential careers - in their chosen sport. The brainchild of former All Black Ant Strachan, it provides exciting opportunities for athletes to advance their skills, and lays strong foundations for Dilworth’s future sporting leaders.

“This is a condensed accelerant programme that will lift students to be the best sports people they can be, equipping them with everything from technical skills, tactical learning, and strength and conditioning, to nutrition, mental skills and even life after sport,” says Ant.

“I’ve taught at lots of schools and been involved in high performance sport for 20 years, but this programme is truly unique.”

Designed for the school’s most promising Year 9 and 10 athletes, the focus of the two-term programme is currently rugby, basketball and football - but there’s scope to develop athletes excelling in other high performance sports such as Olympic weightlifting, tennis and touch.

Dilworth Director of Rugby Gareth Pickering plays a pivotal role in the programme. Since his appointment in 2020, the school’s flagship sport has gone from strength to strength. Now more students per head of population play rugby at Dilworth than at any other Auckland secondary school, and they’re blazing a trail in Auckland’s fiercely contested schoolboy rugby competitions. Last year the Dilworth 1st XV beat Sacred Heart for the first time in the school’s history and in 2021 they beat St Kentigern College, also for the first time.

Why the recent success? According to Gareth it comes down to culture and hard work. Add to that an ambitious strategic vision, top-quality people and the new high performance sport programme and you’ve got a winning combination.

“When I came on board the first thing we did was a review of rugby, and we brought in lots of great coaches, like Sekope Kepu and Sam Ward, who are passionate about helping our young men be the best they can be,” says Gareth.

Their efforts clearly paid off.

“Last year two students gained contracts to the Auckland Academy, and the year before we had two on the rugby league pathway, one in the Warriors age group set up and the other in the North Queensland Cowboys.”

But it’s not just rugby players who are going on to the bright lights – Dilworth basketballers are also making their mark. Year 12 student Ezrah Eagle has made it into the Junior Tall Blacks wider squad and is training with the Auckland Tuatara this season, while recent graduates Luke Sinisa and Noah McKenzie are now playing in the States.

Basketball has been thriving at the school since Coach Josiah Maama took the helm in 2021, and pathways to US colleges, high performance development opportunities and access to top level coaching are just some of the new offerings.

Maama says, “People are noticing that Dilworth is a growing force in the game. We’re building a strong basketball culture that’s starting to be viewed through the same lens as rugby, and athletes are wanting to come here to develop.”

For students with their sights set on sporting success, Dilworth is a slam dunk – and with the full spectrum of sports on offer, from swimming and hockey to cricket and squash, there’s something for everyone. And as Gareth explains, that pays lifelong dividends.

“Research shows that those who participate in sports do better in the classroom. Sport gives young men purpose, and if done well, instills characteristics and behaviours that help on their journey, well beyond the sports fields.”

Find out more about Dilworth School’s scholarships and exceptional results.

Dilworth is a private school offering fully funded wrap-around scholarships for boys from year 7 upwards. Each scholarship is worth more than $35,000 a year, and covers everything including sport coaching, music tuition and extra- curricular activities.

Our students are promising young men, who have aspirations to succeed, from families who seek to

provide them with opportunities not otherwise possible.

The school is committed to providing a safe, caring and nurturing boarding environment. Year 7 students also have the option of starting as a day student.

In 2022 Dilworth School received Child Wise accreditation.