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On the field . . . Young Waimate rugby players (from left) Emma Ottley, Zaylee Davis and Sophie Herbert (all 8) are excited Waimate JAB Rugby are starting up a primary-aged all-girls team. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Greta Yeoman

Girls’ rugby is coming to Waimate this year, as interest in the sport continues to increase.

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

The launch of a girls’ team in Waimate was part of growing interest in women’s rugby which was inspiring a lot of young girls to continue with the sport, South Canterbury Rugby Football Union women’s development officer Caro Rhodes said.

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

Ms Rhodes said in mixed teams, boys would often “pass to their mates” and the girls would lose interest in playing.

The Waimate team was one of several across Mid and South Canterbury – others were in Temuka, Ashburton and Mt Hutt, along with a few combined teams from different towns – and there was potential to start a weekly competition if there were enough players, she said.

Ms Rhodes also hoped to find enough girls in Timaru to start an under-11 girls’ team and would be hosting a have-a-go day on May 5 to gauge interest.

“There’s girls out there.”

She said tackling boys sometimes “puts a lot off”, but teaching girls to tackle at a young age, rather than when they reached high school teams, was a way of encouraging girls to stay in the sport.

Mr Wilce said he had started the girls’ team for 7 to 12-year-olds after having about seven girls in the club last year.

“[We] had a lot of girls . . . last year.”

He said it was often difficult to retain the young female rugby players because they were “a bit shy” about playing with the boys.

Mr Wilce said the young rugby girls would do skills and drills on a Saturday morning.

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

Any young female rugby players interested in playing in a girls-only team can contact South Canterbury Rugby Football Union women’s development officer Caro Rhodes on (03) 688-8653.