Roller Derby: Sulphur City steamrolls in debut

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

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The Sulphur City Steam Rollers (in white) recorded their first victory at the weekend in the club's short history. Photo/Brian Moffat.
The Sulphur City Steam Rollers (in white) recorded their first victory at the weekend in the club's short history. Photo/Brian Moffat.

In a sport described as "rugby on skates" the Sulphur City Steam Rollers have recorded their first victory.

The Rotorua club played their first official roller derby game at the weekend winning the bout 201-171 against Whakatane's The Black Pearls.

It has been two years in the making for the only roller derby club in Rotorua.

"It was amazing, it was really hard work," club founder Layla Robinson, aka Cold Bloodead, said about the match. "Members of the Whakatane league helped us get set up in 2011, they trained us and we have kept a tight relationship with them. So it was good to play our first game against them. Whether we had won or lost just to finally get on the track was a big deal."

She said it took a long time for a new club to prepare for a match, which was part of the reason they took two years to get on the track.

"The sport is not something that you grow up playing like netball or rugby so it takes a while to learn the rules. There is a very thick book of rules ... you have to be careful about things like where you hit and when you hit."

Robinson said the sport show cased a mix of athleticism and theatrics. "It is basically like rugby on skates. It's really fast paced and hard hitting, girls are going flying."

She said there was a big theatrical side to the sport as well with costumes, music and plenty of attitude.

"There are two types of people that play roller derby - the ones who are into the scene ... and the athletes."

Robinson said the Rotorua club had a good mix of athletic players and players who loved wearing the fishnet stockings, loved the music and loved the culture in the sport.

"The girls with the fish netting will bring people to the bouts but the athletes will keep them there."

She said the club had a group of 10 players who could play, with another three who were almost ready to compete after completing a "fresh meat course".

The club also includes two referees.

The club's goal next year is to get more matches under their belt and introduce more players to the club.

Robinson said they train twice a week and will be taking another intake of players in February or March.

The Sulphur City Steam Rollers' debut bout was not open to the public but they will look to have their first open bout early next year.

The MVP for the match on Saturday in Whakatane was the Steam Rollers jammer Shannon Seymour aka Shan Grenade.

In simple terms, the object of the game is to score the most points by lapping opposing team members on the oval track.

The jammer is the point scorer and the other four team members are blockers.

The Steam Rollers' winning team at the weekend included Kerry Pearson, Seymour, Kate Rasmussen, Robinson, Angela Alexander, Kirsty Taylor, Fiona Cameron, Amy Nicholson, Angela Vanner, and DeArna Branson.

The Sulphur City Steam Rollers are an all female club but men are welcome to join as referees.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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