After a successful 2019 season, Northland women's senior club rugby team, the Kamo Hawks, are disbanding to form two teams in 2020.
The Kamo Hawks, who featured players from the Kamo and Otamatea rugby clubs, finished in the top four of 2019's seven-team competition, but will contest this year's competition as two separate teams after the decision made this month.
Lian Tovine-Passmore, an Otamatea club member who played prop for the Kamo Hawks last year, believed the club had the resources and player base to form a team independently.
"I think it's definitely the right time with the right support," she said.
"We know what we are getting ourselves into but I think with the area that we are in, surely we can fill a team."
The Tranznorth Otamatea Hawks will be managed by experienced coaches Lyall Passmore, husband to Tovine-Passmore, and Duane Tupe, husband to former North Harbour player Stacey Tupe, who will play for the Hawks this year.
Tovine-Passmore said the main reason for leaving the partnership with Kamo concerned the travel requirements, which saw players driving to Kamo up to three times a week.
"The travel last year was a bit of a strain for a few of the girls, so there were a handful of them who wouldn't have played this year if we didn't have a team."
Last year's senior competition was the first time one had been played in Northland in about five years after the women's rugby programme dissolved. It was also Tovine-Passmore's first year back playing rugby in about 12 years.
While she was confident the new team could rival the competition's top sides, Tovine-Passmore knew this year's success would be based on commitment.
"I think it's just going to come down to how much time everyone is going to put in because I know the likes of Te Rarawa and Kaikohe are pretty bang on with their trainings.
"In terms of talent and skill I think we've got it, but it's going to come down to nailing consistency with training and the numbers we can get there."
The move represented a positive step for the Otamatea club, which had been through a tough 2019 with the premier men's side relegated from Northland's top grade.
Tovine-Passmore hoped 2020 would be a year of rebuilding for the club which would promote the family atmosphere the club's directors looked to create.
Kamo Hawks' 2019 coach Susan Dawson said the decision reflected progress in Northland women's rugby, similar to what she experienced in her playing days.
"We used to have 12 teams when I was playing so if we can get back to 8-12 sides, that can only be good for Northland."
Dawson, a former Black Fern and current Northland Kauri assistant coach, said she was looking forward to building a new team with the support of the club and sponsors, Dempster and Hill Electrical and Arc Security.
"I am excited because you just never know who's going to pop up and to have another year of coaching under my belt personally, it's all amazing experiences and you meet such amazing people."
Senior women's teams had until February 14 to confirm their participation in this year's competition. Dawson said the excitement was building within the women's rugby community.
"There's even more of a buzz around getting musters going and I'm hoping we get all of the sides back, but even if we don't the other sides will be strengthened."
Kamo will host a women's rugby muster for all ages on Thursday, January 30, from 5.30pm-7pm at Kamo Rugby Club. Otamatea will host their muster on the same day from 6:30pm in Kaiwaka.
Women's rugby will also receive a boost in the Far North this year with the establishment of a high performance academy in Kaitaia in February.
Northland Rugby Union's Josh Hyde, who will head the academy, said the facility was a good starting point for player development in the area.
"If we can keep players here, especially in the north zone, enjoying their rugby, they can grow into their full potential, rather than losing them and getting developed in other areas and hoping we get them back towards the end of their careers."