Above: OBU's Sam Chamberlain skipping into the tackle of All Blacks Sevens player Lote Raikabula with flanker Mitch Clarke in support, in a recent Jubilee Cup match against Marist St Pat’s.
Old Boys University made the semi-finals of the Jubilee Cup in 2013, but prior to that had failed to make much of an impression at the business end of the season. In fact the last time University won the Jubilee Cup was in 1966.
In 2015 they are guaranteed to make the semi-finals with two rounds to play, being the only unbeaten team in the second round.
A key reason for their success has been the contribution of fullback Sam Chamberlain. Chamberlain, along with the prolific James So'oialo, is the joint leading points scorer in the Jubilee Cup.
Chamberlain has amassed 68 points in the last four games. He scored big in the wins against Wellington (15 points), Marist St. Pat’s (19) and Petone (23).
He has also just been named in the New Zealand Universities U23 squad touring England during the Rugby World Cup. Other OBU Goats selected in this squad include Levi Kemp, Liam Doherty and Zac ‘Max’’ Powers, with current Premier Reserve backs coach Ian Tulloch taking charge of the team.
Chamberlain was brought up on a lifestyle block in Leeston, Southbridge - 45km southeast of Christchurch. Southbridge is the birthplace of Dan Carter and Chamberlain knows the family well.
"Dan's father Neville built the first pair of goal posts I ever played with. We had quite a big section so I used to run around a lot," Chamberlain recalls.
Chamberlain was educated at Christ's College. Between 2010 and 2011 he played First XV rugby and First XI cricket at the prestigious school. He has fond memories of his secondary school education.
"Christ's was great, playing rugby and cricket with your mates every week was awesome. We had quite a bit of success. In 2010 we made the Press Cup semi-finals and Marty McKenzie broke the competitions' points scoring record. We also finished second in the National Gillette Cup cricket finals."
Chamberlain relocated to Wellington in 2012 to commence a commerce degree at Victoria University.
His breakthrough rugby season occurred last year. He was a member of the all-conquering Old Boys University Green Colts side.
They were the winners of the Club Team of the Year award at the Wellington Rugby Football Union Awards after winning the John E Kelly Memorial Cup Division 1 U21 grade.
In beating rivals Hutt Old Boys Marist Green 35-8 in the final, they won the title for the third year in succession and registered their 35th straight win going back to 2012.
In the final Chamberlain was named Man of the Match. He scored a try and landed six kicks for a personal haul of 20 points.
OBU Green scored 612 points and 95 tries last year and Chamberlain was the team’s joint leading try scorer with 12 and the leading points scorer with 188 points. He also played a match for OBU’s Hardham Cup side, scoring 12 points.
"2014 was a special year," Chamberlain says,
"We had a strong bond in the Colts and a few of the boys have stepped up to the Premiers as reward for their efforts."
Chamberlain made his premier debut in Round 3 of the Swindale Shield against Oriental Rongotai. He scored a try, but OBU lost. He says it was an exciting challenge marking Wellington wing Afa Fa'atau.
"Afa is a bit of a beast so it was a good challenge marking him. It gave me a good idea of what I am up against in Premier rugby."
Chamberlain wasn't responsible for goal-kicking early in the season, but the absence of four New Zealand Under-20 and four New Zealand Universities players meant he had to step up. Chamberlain says OBU's first round goal was just to make the top eight.
"We were a bit shaky in the first round, but we knew if we got in we had the depth in key positions to challenge the top teams."
Chamberlain believes coaches Jeremy Little, Jamie Williams and Paddy Gough have built a culture of confidence and responsibility, but insists winning the Jubilee Cup will be tough.
"It's such an even comp, anybody can beat anybody on their day, we are just taking each week as it comes.”
This weekend OBU hosts Tawa at the Basin Reserve and a bonus point win would likely see them seal top spot for the semi-finals with a week to spare and the Andy Leslie Trophy for finishing the regular season first.