Girls rugby draws crowd to Wanaka
The Mount Aspiring College girls rugby team won their first home game of the season against Cromwell College on May 24, 31-24, in front of 200 cheering spectators.
Central Otago has been hosting girls rugby for several years, with the four district high schools from Wanaka, Cromwell, Alexandra and Queenstown each boasting a 15-side team and legions of girls in Rippa Rugby.
Girls of all sizes and ages are in the teams, some in their first season, others their fourth.
Most spectators were cheering for the home team with Cromwell College supported by a couple of coaches and a set of grandparents.
But Cromwell had the fleetfooted, try-scoring Olivia Geneblaza, 13, who produced an appreciative roar when she got her hands on the ball.
The Wanaka girls’ head coach, builder Chris Leith, was expecting a ‘‘ding dong battle’’ between the competition’s top two teams.
Cromwell College’s coach Paula Clark said at halftime it was one of the best games she’d seen the teams play.
Mount Aspiring College captain Meg Harraway began playing three years ago.
‘‘I was the smallest person in the team with all the year 12s and 13s. I was kind of scared but I kept at it,’’ Harraway said.
‘‘We went out there and they scored a couple of tries. We were like oh, better pick up our game and it was pretty tough but we stuck at it and I am pretty proud of the girls.’’
Cromwell College co-captains Zena Daniels and Kate Macleod are in the fifth and third year of rugby, respectively. They started because their siblings played.
‘‘It was the best team work we’ve had. We’ve won our last two games but we haven’t played as well as we did tonight,’’ Zena said.
Their last game against Wanaka was ‘‘terrible’’.
‘‘It was still a good game but there were a lot of problems with the side line and not having ropes and people coming on to the field . ... We didn’t really enjoy it because of that ... it was very hard for us, it was quite negative,’’ Kate said.
This year, they were shown significantly more respect, giving Cromwell more confidence.
Later this year, an Otago Country team (Balclutha through to Wanaka) will be selected to play Metro (Dunedin secondary schools) and Southern Country (Invercargill and Southland).
Mount Aspiring College rugby players. from left Georgia Budd, Fiona Murray, captain Meg Harraway, Mia Urquhart and Latisha Halcrow.