Pep talks and power pole lifts pay off

The Horowhenua Mail - - SPORT - ADAM POULOPOULOS

A newly-formed Kapiti Col­lege women’s rugby side have ended the sea­son un­beaten, fu­elled in part by an overnight team­build­ing ex­er­cise at the school’s marae.

The school’s un­der-15 side went un­de­feated through the Horowhenua-Kapiti women’s un­der-15 com­pe­ti­tion.

The 25-minute a half, 10-a-side tour­na­ment was their first sea­son of com­pet­i­tive tackle rugby for sev­eral play­ers.

The team scored 398 points and con­ceded 105 in eight games across the pre-sea­son and reg­u­lar sea­son.

They beat a com­bined Otaki team 26-10 in the fi­nal re­cently, their clos­est game of the year.

Nine of the side were se­lected in the H-K un­der-15 women’s team.

Af­ter a mixed start in the re­gion’s sevens tour­na­ment in March, the team gath­ered at the marae.

Team-build­ing ex­er­cises in­cluded a 5am start, car­ry­ing a power pole from the marae to the beach, and other ex­er­cises in­clud­ing flag sprints when they got there.

‘‘It al­lowed us to see them in an en­vi­ron­ment where they weren’t play­ing sport,’’ coach Michael Stokes said.

‘‘It was great to see them work­ing to­gether, the or­gan­is­ing.’’

New Zealand women’s sevens rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tayla Reti and cur­rent Kapiti Col­lege stu­dents Kiki Ta­here and Grace Ste­wart, both up-and-com­ing rugby play­ers, spoke to them at the marae.

‘‘For our girls to see that, it re­ally opened their eyes,’’ Stokes said.

The team’s su­pe­rior fit­ness was a big as­set – many of the squad also play foot­ball, netball or hockey.

‘‘We’re not a big team, but we’re very mo­bile,’’ Stokes said.

‘‘We play smart rugby, not con­tact rugby.’’

It is the first year Kapiti Col- lege has fielded an un­der-15 women’s team.

Kapiti Col­lege looks set to field a women’s first XV next sea­son for the first time in four years, and the team would play in the Welling­ton com­pe­ti­tion.

Eight of Stokes’ team are el­i­gi­ble to stay at un­der-15 level, while eight are el­i­gi­ble to move up a grade.

Stokes said his team would re­main in the H-K com­pe­ti­tion, which also fea­tures Para­pa­raumu Col­lege and Manawatu Col­lege.

‘‘We work to put back into the Horowhenua-Kapiti com­mu­nity ... so many teams and play­ers go into Welling­ton be­cause of the stronger com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘If you grow your play­ers lo­cally, you strengthen the area.’’

Stokes said he hoped the com­pe­ti­tion could be ex­panded next sea­son.

Tia Brown of Kapiti Col­lege’s un­der-15 side is chased by an Otaki de­fender. Above, Tee Huaki is hit in a tackle.

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