A French exchange pupil Matteo Mion’s time in Gore is that he is now a rugby convert.
The 17-year-old has been attending Gore High School since July last year, and will go home early next month.
Matteo said he grew up playing football in France, but was invited to play rugby for the school.
“I played for the Gore High 2nd XV.
“I didn’t play for the first [XV] because I [had] never played rugby before,” Matteo said.
He played as fullback, and used his skill of kicking a ball to take conversions and penalty kicks.
“I’ve been pretty good for the conversions in the team, so I think that’s my biggest job for the moment, because I am not really efficient yet with fullback.”
The team won one game 28-22.
“Without my kicks [that] I had a 100% in, we would [have lost].”
He would not play football when he went home, even though before he came it was the best sport in the world to him.
The French had an interesting saying about rugby and football.
“Football is a gentlemen’s sport played by gangster guys and rugby is a gangster sport played by gentlemen.”
The time away from his parents had matured him.
“You are growing 100 times faster.
“I’m not feeling 17 actually, now.
“You have a lot of independence .. you’ve got to take care of money, whereas when I was in France, my parents were paying for me and I didn’t realise the cost of life.”
Being away from home had enabled him to reflect on his own culture.
“You become more open-minded.
“I saw the good points of France I didn’t see before and the bad points, and [of] New Zealand also.”