The Eketahuna Women’s rugby team were a “leading light” in the women’s rugby space. PHOTOS/FILE

RUGBY

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

On January 31 a pre-season gathering for women is being held at Carterton Rugby Club.

It’s casual, just a barbecue and a chat, but organisers are hoping the event could lead to the re-emergence of a 15-a-side women’s rugby team in Wairarapa.

Monique Kloeg played for the Eketahuna women’s side for three years.

Former Eketahuna player and promoter of the meet-up Monique Kloeg said all going well they’d look to set up two 15-a-side teams.

“We’re looking at having South and Central Wairarapa teams, they’ll play each other once a week on a weeknight.

“For us the biggest thing is commitment, a lot of our girls play netball and other sports, they’re also mums, so weekends probably won’t work.”

Kloeg played for the Eketahuna women’s side for three years and had retained her passion even when the team was disbanded.

“We’d travel up to Manawatu for games, and some of those girls I played with have gone on to do really well in rugby.

“In the end I think it was the commitment that let that team down, but we’re hoping this event can lead to a surge in players.”

Depending on numbers, the teams may start off as 10-a-side before moving to 15-a-side.

Featherston Rugby Club is also gauging interest in a women’s team through their weekly Wednesday night touch matches.

If there’s enough interest the club will look at setting up a 15-a-side squad.

Featherston Rugby Club president Ritchie Wards said that the club had a strong history of women’s rugby that they wanted to bring back.

“We were involved in women’s tournaments in the 70s to 80s and used to have cups and shields, but it slowly petered out and we haven’t had women’s teams here for the last 15 years.

“The question is why shouldn’t there be a women’s team? It’s 2019.”

While Wards was not sure on the challenges they’d face, he thought stigma would be something that could hold back the women’s side.

“It might not happen this year, but we’re giving it a go. We want to start a conversation with other clubs and get the ball rolling.

“We’ve got a heap of these young kids involved in rugby, and we’re thinking, what’s the drop off?”

He said the club, which had a half-female governing committee, would also look at changing the way the clubs changing rooms and showers worked.

“We’re reviewing everything from our constitution to our clubrooms and we’re encouraging diversity.”

Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Football Union CEO Tony Hargood said the union was excited by the possibility of a women’s competition.

“From our point of view, we look forward to working with the clubs to help get this over the line.

“There have been some patchy attempts to get women’s teams up and running in the past, but probably the leading light in that space has been the Eketahuna club.”

Eketahuna club president Doc Daughtery said the key to the Eketahuna Women’s team had been “the right people at the right time”.

“We had a good coach and good players – one year they won the Wellington tournament at Memorial Park.”

He said the challenge for any side looking to set up a team was commitment, depth of players and depth of experience.