The next generation's Sarah Goss or Portia Woodman might be showing her wares at Arataki Park over the next five weeks as Bay of Plenty Rugby introduces primary and intermediate school age girls to sevens.

Fresh off the success of a 10-a-side module in term 2, women's rugby development officer Les Elder started what she calls her "Spring Sevens" matches this week and hopes the success of the Mount Maunganui-based Black Ferns at the World Cup in San Francisco last week will attract a lot of youngsters to the game.

"We found that when some of the Black Ferns came to hand out prizes after our 10-a-side games, the girls just idolise those players who wear the black jersey," Elder said.

"So when national teams are doing well, it's massive for the growth of the sport. We have a lot of work ahead to get girls involved, but we want them to give rugby a go."


The Spring Sevens module started with about 50 girls from years 3 to 8 but Elder is hoping that number will increase as the programme continues through August.

The 10-a-side games attracted more than 100 girls every week last term and with sevens being a sport in the Aims Games, Elder sees her programme as a chance for intermediate school teams to get ready for that huge event in Tauranga in the second week of September.

Les Elder at the Spring Sevens module. Photo/George Novak
Les Elder at the Spring Sevens module. Photo/George Novak

The intermediate school teams play on a full-sized rugby field, while the primary school age girls have a smaller, modified field. The games might be full contact tackle rugby, but Elder's experience from the 10-a-side matches is that size discrepancy between players isn't an issue.

"As long as we keep players of about the same age together, we don't need to have weight limits for our teams. I just found it wasn't a problem."

The key to the success of the programme is its flexibility.

"We don't really have winners and losers. The modules are flexible and players and teams can be mixed up, depending who comes along."

Elder thinks that at the moment schools are a little unsure about the programme, which is understandable given how new it is. But her plan is to show that sevens, with its status in world sport increasing every year because of its Olympic, World Cup and World Series tournaments, is a sport offering plenty of opportunity to girls of all ages.

Tauranga is already home to the best sevens players in the world. The best of the future could be here too.


Spring Sevens


Primary and Intermediate school age girls sevens


Arataki Park, Mt Maunganui


Mondays 4.15 pm till August 27