Success for North Harbour Rugby with the large growth of women’s and girl’s rugby as pathways become more established and the sport gains traction in different areas of the community.
However sometimes with increases there are growing pains, but in this case the good overcome the bad.
At festival days earlier in the season there were over 1,000 girls playing rippa/rip rugby which is a massive increase from last year and club numbers are growing steadily, although new changing facilities are needed at some clubs and this is being worked on.
“We’ve doubled our numbers in the U15 Rip grade from 90 to over 180 girls and have gone from 620 participants in girls non-contact in 2020 to over 1000 participants in 2021,” says Anna Peterson, North Harbour Rugby Manager, Women’s and Girls.
“In terms of tackle rugby we have added a youth 15 tackle grade for schools/clubs to enter. We’ve had eight schools enter this grade meaning approx. 120 girls are either playing rugby for the first time or are staying in the game and continuing on the pathway to U18 girls rugby.”
A lot of work is being done in schools from primary to secondary as well as U18 and club level to grow a base to eventually field a more local and stronger Farah Palmer Cup side.
“I think it terms of positive impact, we know the amazing effects team sport and being active can have on a young person and their wellbeing. We are now able to provide a place for young girls to play rugby who possibly never would have picked a ball up, we are able to bridge the gap between youth girls who are new to the game and senior rugby. We’ve created a meaningful pathway for the girls to follow and enjoy their rugby.
“We’ve added a new female grade. U15 tackle which is a way of getting those girls new to rugby at high school or younger high school players playing tackle and not scaring them off by going straight into our U18 Premier competition. We currently have nine teams in that grade, and being a 10-aside grade that is at least 90 girls playing the sport which is awesome.
There are currently 82 teams in women’s and girl’s rugby in Norther Harbour, which is made up of junior (club) and youth (intermediate and secondary schools rugby). There are also two women’s sides which play in the wider Auckland Premiership competition.
All have increased from previous seasons as North Harbour Rugby aims to increase depth and participation numbers.