As a former New Zealand 7s player it's no wonder Charles Baxter loves the idea of passing down some rugby skills to his children.

It's probably something many men, no matter their ability and experience, aspire to do when they become dads, kicking the footy around with, traditionally, their sons.

But Baxter, who made his New Zealand Sevens debut in 2002 at 21, is doing just that with his three daughters - Tessa, 6, Bailey, 9 and Onnah, 10 - and has even helped showcase the sport among some of their school friends at Tauranga Primary School.

This week Baxter ran a girls-only rugby skills session for the senior pupils after it became apparent to the school's sports co-ordinator Jo Taele that there were young girls at the school who wanted to play rugby but lacked skill and confidence.


He wasn't sure how many would turn up, but Baxter offered to help teach rugby skills and technique such as tackling and passing to those interested, resulting in about 16 girls, including his eldest daughter Onnah, wanting to learn more.

He says it's important that girls know rugby is an option for them and understand the benefits the sport, like many others, can provide someone, from hand-eye co-ordination and work ethic to the travel opportunities and experience.

Not as common as other sports such as netball among girls, Baxter hopes that will change - and believes "the time is now" to jump on the success of the Black Ferns, who are paving the way for getting more females into the sport.

He says the attention they are getting has "been a long time coming" and hopes it continues.

"The way the girls are playing at the moment they've certainly made it more of an option for others to say 'I can do this'," he says.

Baxter, whose career included playing for New Zealand Sevens (2003-07), Bay of Plenty (2001-06) and Bay of Plenty Secondary Schools (2000), says those who took part in Tuesday's skills session seemed to enjoy themselves and were eager to learn.

"I was really chuffed that they were really giving it a go."

Now working as general manager for Tauranga-based shrink wrap company A1 Wrap, Baxter says this week's session was organised as a testing session to see how much the female pupils enjoyed the basics of the sport and whether it was something they wanted to pursue. If so, he says he is happy to keep helping.


Taele says there was a girls rugby tournament on and the school couldn't field a team.

After speaking with Baxter, Taele says they felt it was important that the girls gained some skills in the sport before taking on a tournament so they could go into it with some confidence and be able to enjoy the sport more.

"He knows what he's talking about ... he was fantastic with the kids."

She says, thanks to the success of the Black Ferns, rugby was becoming a more popular option for young girls and believes it's important to embrace it to ensure all students are given the option and opportunity to join in.

She hopes the skills sessions will lead to more girls wanting to play the sport, which will allow the school to eventually enter school teams into competitions, even if it begins with ripper rugby, which is a non-contact rugby option for primary and intermediate aged players.