Game on ... Under-11 players from Temuka and Harlequins played their first match in the under-11 girls' rugby competition in May. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

2018 was an eventful year for South Canterbury. The Courier reporters Greta Yeoman, Claire Allison and Chris Tobin look back at some of the leading stories of the year’s papers.

Girls’ rugby made the front page of The Courier twice this year as the sport grew in popularity.

The April 19 edition featured the launch of an under-11 girls’ team in Waimate, while South Canterbury Rugby Football Union women’s development officer Caro Rhodes planned out an under-11 girls’ tournament in Timaru.

This year was the first time the primary school-aged players were able to play in a girls-only team, Waimate JAB Rugby president Blair Wilce said at the time.

“[We have had] quite a bit of interest.”

Ms Rhodes was pleased with the uptake in Timaru, hosting a Wednesday evening season for four teams from Timaru South, Waimataitai, Pleasant Point and Temuka.

“[It is] a rub-off from the Black Ferns.”

The Courier also led its September 27 edition with a story about the need to upgrade changing and shower facilities at the Alpine Energy Stadium due to the uptake in women’s rugby.

Union chief executive Craig Calder described the stadium as a bit of “an embarrassment” when mixed tournaments used the stadium.

“The growth of women’s rugby has stunned us. We’ve got to get unisex facilities.”

Ms Rhodes told The Courier in December that the rugby union had a big year planned for 2019.

The union would build on its under-11 and under-15 girls’ grade and introduce an under-13 girls’ grade in term two, as well as hosting “have a go” sessions in schools.

“We have lots on offer next season ensuring girls have an opportunity to enjoy rugby in a fun, safe environment.”

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