The last two teams Caleb Delany has been involved in have caused quite a stir, which contrasts against his own diligent, unassuming and friendly personality.
In 2017, Delany was a member of the somewhat unpopular Waimea Combined College’s First XV which stunned local rivals Nelson College in the Crusaders region school competition.
Last year he was part of the Old Boys University Colts side that won the John E Kelly Memorial Cup but were docked competition points after a fixture with Marist St Pats ended prematurely following a series of altercations.
Delany captures the significance of Waimea upsetting the apple cart at the top of the South Island.
“We had a team which combined players from all over the Nelson region, except Nelson College. When we were Waimea-only it was impossible to compete. We’d be lucky to win a couple of games a year, but with players coming from as far as Takaka and good coaching, we were pretty decent,” he said.
Despite conceding an early intercept, Waimea won 38-24.
“After the intercept I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but we rallied together, and everything clicked. The crowd which was three-deep that day were shocked,” Delany recalled.
Despite complaints from Nelson College supporters that the Combined outfit was unfair, Waimea well and truly justified their presence by winning 15 of their 28 games when Delany was in the First XV. Waimea only achieved a solitary win as a single entity in 2015.
Another highlight was beating private school powerhouse St Andrew’s College 34-25. In 2017, Delany was awarded Waimea’s MVP.
“Every second game we had to travel to Christchurch, so we got Friday off school and developed strong friendships. I think that was a big part of us punching above our weight,” Delany observed.
The lock and loose forward was aggressively pursued by Tasman, but a desire to study architecture and a scholarship from Old Boys University lured Delany to Wellington.
“Tasman was good to me and it was tough to leave home, but I’ve really enjoyed my time in Wellington. This year I’m flatting in Northland with five boys I met in Capital Hall last year which is pretty cool,” Delany enthused.
Delany was a hit at the Billygoats, helping the Colts win their fifth title in seven years, but the season threatened to unravel after an ugly brawl against Marist St Pats.
“That was a pretty dusty game. There was a keen rivalry with Marist St Pats because they beat us the first time. As soon as the game was called off, we knew we’d done the wrong thing,” Delany rues.
“We were made to do chores by the club and the negative focus put our minds back to rugby.”
From fourth, OBU beat Norths 48-17 in the semi-final and Hutt Old Boys Marist 55-0 in the final to emphatically improve their credentials.
Delany’s excellence earned him a place in the Wellington Under-19‘s who finished fourth at the Nationals in Taupo in September.
Better was to come when he was named Wellington Community Age Group player of the year.
Rugby wasn’t necessarily a default choice for Delany. In addition to a basketball appetite, Delany was a softball catcher in the summer who earned selection for the Junior Black Sox.
Delany’s folks have remained in Nelson where father Mike works for PBT transport and mum Paula is a nurse having previously been a nanny in London where she met Mick Jagger.
Favourite Musician: Ski Mask
Favourite Movie: Dukes of Hazzard (Original)
Celebrity Crush: Mila Kunis
Favourite Players: Sir Michael Jones, Richard McCaw