Marist Sevens trip to grow women’s rugby in Northland

Te Tai Tokerau, the first women’s rugby side from Northland, New Zealand to ever travel abroad, will play their first match at the Marist International Sevens Tournament this morning against local champions Apia Maroons.

Regardless of how the tournament goes, Te Tai Tokerau coach and former Black Fern and World Cup winner Rawinia Everitt said just getting to Samoa is a big tick for them.

“Across the board, our main goal is to grow the game.

“I know that the girls are really excited, they just can’t wait to get out there and play together.”

The group of 17 players arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and Everitt said they tried to bring a player from each club throughout Northland.

“So they could hopefully, from this trip, go back to their clubs and share.

“I’m just using my platform that I know to give back to the game that I love as well.”

The team travelled to Rotorua for nationals last year, which Everitt said was the inspiration for the trip further afield.

“A couple of girls hadn’t travelled beyond Auckland.

“You can learn a lot travelling, and seeing the world through your own eyes as well as appreciate what you have back home.

“We’re very lucky back home in terms of our resources, field space and stuff like that.”

She said a couple of their friends played for Auckland Samoa in last year’s inaugural Marist Sevens women’s tournament.

“We’ve seen the mahi (work) that they’ve done, and they’re trying to engage Samoan youth into playing rugby as it’s a pathway now.”

It’s a kaupapa (purpose) Everitt was keen to get behind.

“That’s kinda what we’re trying to do back home, trying to inspire and get our youth up home into rugby.

“There’s not many opportunities up there for women and girls, and we’re good at sport so I thought why not.

“Why not show that you can travel the world through sport and rugby”

She said being able to use the sport they love as a platform was cool.

“Its not just about rugby, the game, it’s the camaraderie, the sisterhood you build, the memories you make, and also the life lessons that you learn.”

Everitt said the team had not trained all together before arriving, because Northland is so spread out geographically.

“We all live about three hours apart.”

She said despite being a Maori team with a Maori name, they have two players of Samoan descent.

“They can share their home with us, it’s pretty special.

“We’re looking forward to hopefully going back to their villages, where they’ll be able to reconnect with their family.”

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