The mighty winning streak Rotorua Girls’ First XV have been on came to an abrupt end in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Baywide Girls’ First XV rugby champions took on Hamilton Girls’ to decide the right to represent the Chiefs at this week’s NZ Barbarians National First XV Championships in Palmerston North.
The greater experience of the Hamilton team showed as they beat Rotorua 65-0. But there were far more positives than negatives to reflect on at the end of another memorable year for Rotorua Girls’.
They won their second consecutive Baywide title, with a 44-20 win over Te Wharekura o Mauao from Tauranga in the final, before getting past Taranaki champions New Plymouth Girls' High School in the Chiefs region semi-finals.
Bay of Plenty Rugby’s Secondary School Rugby Manager, Ian Parata, says Rotorua is still a really young team with the majority of the team in Year 11.
“They brought a lot of new girls into the squad this year. They have done extremely well and they have just got better and better every game,” he says.
“Most of them have two more years at school so they are certainly going to be a force to contend with in the next two seasons. They have also done really, really well with (coach) Jimi McLean and (manager) Carolyn Katu at the helm. They are just going to get better.”
Ian says much credit must go to the school for the supportive environment that makes such a difference to creating the right culture.
“The school has been very good and have good structures in place. They are a traditionally strong netball school but have been Bay champs in sevens and the fifteen aside.
“They are always a good school to work with and always accommodating. Their philosophy is to get the girls to participate and to encourage girls to get out there and give it a go.”
The successful fifteens programme this winter is set to drive further success in the sevens programme to come over the summer.
The goal for Rotorua, as it is for all schools, is the annual Condor Sevens tournament to be held this year at King’s College in Auckland from November 28 to December 1.
Ian is picking great things for Rotorua Girls’ sevens teams over the next few months.
“They have got two teams who have been running all year. They have a development team and their premier First XV girls so those younger girls who are first year into rugby have got a good pipeline.
“The development side was very competitive and came in the top three out of the 10 teams we had. Again they were all brand new to the code and I think will roll into the Condor qualifiers.
“In fact they are my pick to take that out for the Bay.”