When a crew of Northland women head to Samoa on Tuesday for a sevens rugby tournament, winning won't be the only thing on their minds.

The team of 16 players, who won the Northern Regions Maori rugby tournament in October last year, will travel to Samoa to compete in an international Marist sevens tournament from February 15-16.

"From our success winning the northern regions tournament came chance to spread our wings and get a taste of international rugby and join in on the sevens tournament," player Leah Claridge said, on behalf of the team.

Northland hadn't won the northern regions tournament since 2007, winning back a historic trophy named "Hine", a four-foot, 40 kilogram carved trophy which was originally given to the tournament by Northland.

Standing at about four-feet and weighing over 40 kilograms, the trophy 'Hine' was finally won back by the Northland side after 12 years. Photo / Supplied
Standing at about four-feet and weighing over 40 kilograms, the trophy 'Hine' was finally won back by the Northland side after 12 years. Photo / Supplied

"It was so amazing, we haven't won it in a long long time and it was great to bring Hine home," she said.

Entering into the Samoan tournament was a form of pay back for the players who had put so much time and energy into preparing fro the northern regions tournament and would open their eyes as to the quality of other teams from other nations.

The players wouldn't be affiliated to any club while at the tournament but were representing Te Tai Tokerau on the world stage. This was done in the hope that it would push other Northland women to take up rugby or bring back those who had played in the past.

The players had come from all over Northland, ranging from Kaitaia to Otamatea, and had banded together in the hope of promoting the women's game. The team was coached by two-time New Zealand women's rugby player of the year Rawinia Everitt and 30 test Black Fern veteran, Aroha Savage.

"It's because of them how we got to these opportunities and become involved in Maori women's rugby as well as this trip to Samoa," she said.

When asked about Everitt's influence on the team, Claridge said the value she had added to the group was beyond description.

"She has just lifted the spirits of so many individuals struggling with life, extending out to our struggling communities who have often gone without that kind of influence.

"She's even gone as far as to going to visit gyms around Northland to ensure that our players have got access to these gyms so our ladies had no excuse to not go and train."


In addition to their own training plans, the team met twice a week for a group training which was a big commitment from those who lived further away. Claridge said this was down to the conviction of the girls to grow the game in Northland.

"Our mission is to grow the game in Northland, always grow the game so others can take part."

As a result of growing the game, the team hoped to be involved in the initiation of a Farah Palmer Cup team, the women's equivalent of the Mitre 10 Cup, from Northland, which would be perfect timing for the upcoming Women's Rugby World Cup which was hosted in the north.

"We are hoping we can get [a Farah Palmer Cup team] this year because with world cup coming, all of this connects to that as an exciting event that's coming to Northland."