Auckland Samoa here to grow women’s rugby

By Thomas Airey 13 February 2019, 12:00AM

Defending champions Auckland Samoa Women’s Rugby are on the island with a greater purpose than just competing in the Vailima Marist International Sevens Tournament.

The club are the defending champions from last year’s inaugural women’s tournament, but Auckland Samoa co-coach Vania Wolfgramm said they’re here to do much more than defend their title.

“Our mission here is to inspire and engage tamaitai Samoa, through rugby.

“We just wanted to be able to come here and encourage the women here that they can play, that there is opportunities now that women’s rugby is growing across the world.

“We came last year as well, and we just saw the interest in girls when we delivered our coaching sessions.”

Auckland Samoa arrived in Apia on Sunday, and have offered several coaching clinics at colleges around the area before they leave next Tuesday.

“To play our part in growing the women’s game in Samoa,” said Wolfgramm.

“We did originally have a plan to go over to Savaii on Monday, but the weather played its part.

They’ve also brought along gear for women’s rugby players here, with support from the Auckland, North Harbour and Counties-Manukau rugby unions.

“I think we take things for granted in New Zealand,” Wolfgramm said.

The team have brought a travelling party of 41 to Samoa, including 22 players, as well as supporters, children and parents.

Wolfgramm said it was important to involve their families and culture.

“Samoa are really big with ‘aigas, we can’t do anything without themShe said there’s quite a variance in the ages of the players.

“We do have two younger players that are still in school.

“Their first time playing in Samoa, first time playing for Auckland Samoa, one of them first time playing at all.”

She said the team about 50% of last year’s tournament winning side have returned.

“Some of our girls, if they’ve played for New Zealand they’ll never get the opportunity to play for the Manusina.”

Wolfgramm said it is really special for them to be able to come and play for a Samoan team in Samoa.

“Just making sure that we engage with our own cultures.”

The team have been drawn into a tough pool, along with fellow New Zealand sides Te Tai Tokerau and Christchurch Women’s Rugby, and local champions Apia Maroons.

“We just roll with that, it was fairly drawn and that’s what we gotta do,” said Wolfgramm.

She said they still have high expectations for the tournament, and wanna be taken seriously by putting on a good performance.

By Thomas Airey 13 February 2019, 12:00AM

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