Fit for the challenge
Northern United’s women’s team are setting the standard as their club rugby season enters the final weeks.
After clinching the first round Fleurs Trophy with ease – bonus point wins all the way – they sit atop the standings in the Victoria Tavern Trophy with just one round and the finals to go.
This is despite one loss and being forced to default to close rivals Eketahuna on July 14 due to absences and injury. Former Black Fern Aimee Sutorius, in her first season as coach, says the key to Norths’ continued success is having a core of old hands and younger talent constantly emerging in the Porirua basin.
‘‘At one stage in the season we had 30 girls, but it’s down to 20. It’s a real solid mix of experience and young players coming through, from schools like Aotea, Viard and Tawa, and they add an extra dimension. They are very proud to play for Norths, there’s a lot of club loyalty. It’s part of our culture in Porirua to have the right attitude and skills.’’
Norths’ excellent fitness is often a telling factor, as they pull away from their opponents in the second half, Sutorius says.
Players like Helen Collins, Aggie Dean, Brenda Collins, Leah Conley and Black Fern Moana Aiatu lead the way.
Three years ago the women’s premier grade had 11 teams. This year there are six. But Sutorius says the games are tighter than ever.
‘‘It’s a lot closer than it has been in previous years. A bunch of Petone players joined Wainui and Stokes Valley, some from MSP went to Ories, so there is more concentration.’’
She says there is ‘‘a real push’’ from the Wellington Rugby Union to put more resources into women’s rugby, which can only be good for the club and NPC competitions. She hopes at least eight Norths girls will play in this year’s NPC.