Time was up. The final hooter had sounded and the Bay of Plenty Volcanix held a slender 7-5 lead in the pouring rain against Otago. All they had to do was gain possession, put the ball out of play, and they would be the 2017 Farah Palmer Cup Championship winners.

Step up Luka Connor, the uncompromising prop, who won her side a penalty on their own try line with some brilliant ruck work. They kicked the ball out, sparking scenes of jubilation.

The Volcanix had done the unthinkable, the side who were unable to win a game last season had won the Championship and secured a place in the Premiership division in 2018.

However, the achievement was not necessarily unthinkable to the players themselves. As they improved with every game they played, they became more confident of going all the way. In a tournament named after one of the most iconic figures in women's rugby, the Volcanix have more than done their part in promoting the women's game.

Advertisement

Having had a week to reflect on the victory coach Brendon Webby said it felt "bloody good".

Your 2017 Farah Palmer Cup Championship Winners! #TeamNix #Champions #FinalsFooty

Posted by Bay of Plenty Rugby on Saturday, 28 October 2017

"It was exciting, that's what finals footy is all about. That's why we coach and play sport, for those sorts of moments.

"The thing we are most proud of is that we achieved what we set out to do at the start of the year, which was to grow women's rugby in the Bay and try to change the culture of the team for the better.

"Obviously with that and performing to a good level we got a result which is pretty awesome and thoroughly deserved by the girls. I honestly believe it was our full squad that got us there. We had some pretty serious injuries, so it took the whole squad to contribute."

Webby said the season was littered with moments that made him sure the team had what it took to be successful.

"One of the highlights for me, as far as results go, is that we more than competed with two Premiership sides [Auckland and Waikato in crossover games]. That can give the girls a lot of confidence moving forward to next year and tells us we won't be playing to avoid relegation. We'll be playing, like we have all year, to be better than before and play finals footy."

The thing he enjoyed most about being the Volcanix coach this season was seeing the growth in individual players and the team as a whole.

"And obviously just changing that culture and mindset around women's rugby. The team really led that and drove it and it was pretty special to be part of."

Advertisement

Connor, who was also an integral member of the Baywide champion Waikite women's team this year, said hearing the fulltime whistle last Saturday was "amazing".

Hard-running Volcanix prop Luka Connor holds off defenders during a Farah Palmer Cup game against Tasman. Photo/Getty Images
Hard-running Volcanix prop Luka Connor holds off defenders during a Farah Palmer Cup game against Tasman. Photo/Getty Images

"The feeling was obviously great, to actually win it, and because it was so close the whole game. It was such a fight and to finally hear that final whistle was a relief.

"I think the season overall has definitely been a step up from the last couple of years. Just our culture and the girls were more keen to play, everyone individually did their own roles and wanted to wear that jersey. There was always a fight for the jersey - we've definitely not had that other years.

"Everything was more professional, trainings and everything were scheduled out to certain times so we knew what we were doing before we got to training. We knew what we had to do during the week, our trainer had it all set up."

She said it was important to the players to do all they could to promote women's rugby and she believed they had been successful.

"We definitely got the Volcanix name out there more - the last few years no one has really known who the Volcanix were. We're hoping that will inspire younger girls and women to play the game."

She was confident the team could handle the step up to the Premiership next year.

"I know that we will just need to keep training and doing what we're doing. Hopefully we can keep the same team, to have the same girls would be amazing, and up our intensity even more.

"We had a very bad season for injuries, our first game against Auckland we had three season-ending injuries and the week after we had a girl break her leg. Other players had to step up and they did."