Calling all budding female rugby players – Mahurangi Rugby Club is gearing up to form new teams ahead of a plan by North Harbour Rugby to kick-start women’s rugby at club level next year.
Club chair Charmaine Gravatt says there is a wealth of young talent coming through the ranks and Mahurangi aims to be ready.
For the past two years, women’s club participation has been confined to an Albany Barbarians squad made up of players from all the North Harbour teams, including three players from Mahurangi – Jessie Courtenay-Malupo, Moana Courtenay and Tenaija Fletcher. All three played for North Harbour and Fletcher will be playing for the Blues this season.
North Harbour women’s rugby manager Anna Peterson says it’s important to get the female game back at individual club level to encourage more of such talent.
“We’ve done a lot of work around getting women’s rugby back in the clubs, so women can wear their club colours and get used to being in the clubs and, just as importantly, the men get used to women being in the clubs,” she said.
“We’re looking at options of a 10-a-side tournament, and we already have five clubs lined up, including Mahurangi,” she says. “They’ve done a great job with women’s rugby, so we’re looking at how we can support them and how we kick-start that.”
Peterson says North Harbour still hasn’t finalised when the 10s tournament will take place, though immediately post-season seems more likely than pre-season.
“The club rugby season is not long this year because we have the delayed Rugby World Cup this year, so we need to fit a season in up to the cup. There’s a lot of rugby to juggle.”
Fiona Mann, from Warkworth, is currently a co-coach for the Albany Barbarians and will be running women’s training and team-building sessions at Mahurangi from July or August.
She is urging anyone who is interested in playing the game in the meantime to attend Barbarian training sessions, which start at 6pm on February 1 at the Marist University Rugby Club grounds, next to North Harbour Stadium in Albany, and then run every Tuesday and Thursday at the same time. Mann says anyone over 16 is welcome to train and experience is not important, as there are two development 10s teams, as well as the Premier 15 side.
“We’ve got three players at the moment, but I really believe there’s so much more raw untouched talent in Mahurangi,” she says. “If we can get four to six girls down and playing for Albany, it’s going to be very exciting for Mahurangi next year. I’m so excited about it.”
Charmaine Gravatt agrees.
“We’ve got a lot of talented girls coming up through the ranks. When Harbour brings it back to the clubs, we want to have a team,” she says. “We have got such great players in our area that we owe it to them to have a women’s team.”
Info: Fiona Mann on 027 365 0671