Rugby: Mt Roskill Grammar girl's side making a comeback

By Campbell Burnes

Mt Roskill Grammar girls' 10-a-side captain Lovely Pulotu is one of several who have benefited from the school rugby academy. Photo / Supplied
Mt Roskill Grammar girls' 10-a-side captain Lovely Pulotu is one of several who have benefited from the school rugby academy. Photo / Supplied

A few years back, Mt Roskill Grammar School had to scrub its girls' rugby team due to fighting, but there is now a resurgence after starting a rugby academy in 2015.

The academy involves 12 girls and up to 25 boys in Years 9-10 and is already reaping the benefits, not just on the field, but also in the classroom. There will typically be three academy lessons a week, of which two might be practical, working on fitness or skills, and one might be theory, which can be numeracy or literacy lessons based on rugby.

"It's a good way of engaging them," says MRGS director of sport Ben Horne.

"They might switch off in a maths lesson, but if, say, it's about measuring a rugby field, they would be more interested."

The junior girls who are involved in the academy are driving much of the success on the field.

MRGS tops the standings in the schoolgirls' 10-a-side competition and in fact have dropped just one game all season, 19-14 to Tangaroa College on Monday, but their overall winning points' average is 61-8 per match. They have blanked three sides, and conceded just one try three other times in the Monday afternoon competition, which is the precursor to the eight-team First XV girls' competition.

"Our aim is to get a team into the First XV competition next year. We know it's a lot more competitive and we won't get the opportunity to thrash teams by 100 points, which actually isn't good for either team," Horne says.

"We are building that depth so we can have a bigger squad for a 15-a-side team. We want to play against the best. The girls have been playing some amazing rugby, but we want to be playing decent opposition every week."

The MRGS boys' First XV plays in the 1B grade, and is now in the Plate section, but they too have ambitions for next season and beyond.

The girls' game has grown in the last 2-3 seasons to the point where the school fields two teams, including an Under 15 7-a-side group, which is also showing winning form.

Entry to the First XV grade is open, but the hope is that MRGS will have the size and skill, if not the experience, to compete with the likes of Southern Cross and Aorere.

MRGS old boy Tillan Kapsin coaches the 10-a-side girls, and they respond well to his 3-4 trainings a week. His daughter Summer Kapsin, who plays in the forwards, captained the Auckland Under 15s, and is in the academy, as is MRGS team captain and Year 10 student Lovely Pulotu. Tiana Raftstrand-Smith, a niece of Black Ferns and NZ sevens wing Portia Woodman, is another of the six girls to make the Auckland Under 15s, where they gained valuable exposure to the 15s code.

The MRGS 10s girls play Edgewater on Monday night. They are already guaranteed a top four berth, but would love nothing more than to go one better than their runners-up effort of 2015. Then they can focus on those scrums and lineouts in the off-season before hopefully taking on the top First XVs in Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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