Mullumbimby 16-year-old, Raife McKenzie, is a rising star rugby player who has had a big year after winning the country championship, being selected for NSW’s top-country side, as well as starting at a new school; Ipswich Grammar in Brisbane.
‘It’s all very new and has all happened very quickly,’ Raife’s mother Kylie Fisher said. ‘He feels like all his dreams are coming true’.
Raife has been playing representative rugby with the Far North Coast since he was 12, but this year his U/16 team went the whole way and won the country championships, played in Armidale.
On the back of that performance he was selected for the NSW Country representative side and was due to play a series of games against the best Sydney-based sides.
He did get a chance to get to Sydney for training, as well as a game against the combined high school side, but since then the schedule has been stymied by the COVID-19 surge.
Nonetheless another window of opportunity opened when he was offered a position at Ipswich Grammar, which he didn’t hesitate to take. He is currently playing in the school’s 16A side competing in the GPS rugby competition.
Raife joined the Lennox Head Trojans rugby club in 2018 and was not alone when he went to the Country Championships with the FNC side. In all, 12 of the 23 players in the U/16 representative side picked to win the tournament were from the Trojans.
Raife was one of five Trojan juniors including Spencer Alcock, Luca Beasley-Kenk, Fergus Gillan and Domanic Mason, who went on to attend the Country representative team’s first training camp in Sydney in May.
Before the Trojans, Raife played for the Brunswick Valley Ocean Shores junior rugby club.
He started out in rugby league but fell in love with the continuous play of rugby.