Rotorua's first all girl junior rippa rugby side plans to use team work, hard running and "girl power" to take on the boys.

he history making Waikite Kowhai Under 6 Girls side was created after a record 200 juniors signed up to the club , including 11 girls eligible for the U6 age group.
Waikite junior rugby co-ordinator Mike Miller saw an opportunity that couldn't be missed.

"This year Waikite's drive to get our children to play sport and build up our club was met with a positive response and lots of rugby registrations and importantly lots of girls, so it was an easy decision to make an all-girls team," Mr Miller said.

"We are proud to find out that we are the first in the Bay of Plenty and the girls have a great future.


"Waikite has the lucky number of 13 teams taking the field [today] and cannot wait to debut our all girls Kowhai team."

Rippa rugby kicks off around the region today, with hundreds of children set to take to the field.

Waikite Rugby Club under-6 girls' rippa rugby team. Photo/ Stephen Parker.
Waikite Rugby Club under-6 girls' rippa rugby team. Photo/ Stephen Parker.

The girls, coached by Pete Makiha, will kick-off their season today against Ngongotaha Hawks and will play non-competitive, non-contact games against boys' sides where no scores are recorded until a final end of year tournament.

Mr Makiha said it had been plain sailing so far preparing and training the team. He previously coached mainly boys in the same age range last year.

"I think there's a big difference between boys and girls at this age. I have unsurprisingly found the girls to be more focused with longer attention spans and they're not as easily distracted like boys are at this age, so they've been easier to coach. They are better listeners and better learners," he said.

The coach, who has three daughters of his own with his eldest Stevie, 5, in the team, said it was going to be an exciting challenge for the girls.

"We know the boys won't be taking it easy on us so we just need to be prepared. Boys have a kind of mongrel that girls don't possess at this age, so instead we will have to rely on team work, hard running and of course girl power, on the day."

The Waikite under-6 girls' rippa rugby team is ready to roll today. Photo/Stephen Parker.
The Waikite under-6 girls' rippa rugby team is ready to roll today. Photo/Stephen Parker.

To help develop and integrate the girls into the club a 'tuakana teina programme' will be introduced where the girls will be paired up and mentored by players from Waikite women's 1st XV, who are the current Bay of Plenty women's club champions.

Junior rugby committee member Tanya Hemara hopes the women will inspire the girls and encourage them to continue playing in the future.

"We want the women to be like big sisters to the little girls and someone they can look up to and want to be," said Ms Hemara.

"The U6s will be able to go and watch the games and be properly mentored by these women who are the best people to offer support and advice.

"And hopefully by doing this the young girls will have an excellent pathway into the game and you never know we may have a few future women All Blacks in our ranks!"

This year's Waikite Kowhai U6 team is made up of: Tiana Chrisohoou, Willow Corbett, Charlie Hiwarau, Stevie Makiha, Zarah Murray, Anaia O'Connell, Raumati Stephens, Miringa Waipoua-Bryers, Piata Waipoua-Bryers, Zion Walters, Layla-Rose Wiringi.

Mother of 4-year-old Tiana - Alicia Chrisohoou, is "over the moon," about the creation of the all girls side as it enables her daughter to channel her boundless energy into something positive.

"Tiana is the very outgoing, playful middle child and she needed something to challenge her," said Ms Chrisohoou.

"This sport is fantastic for girls because it teaches them about team work, how hard work can get you results and keeps them fit and healthy.

"Some parents may be worried about letting their little girls have a go but it has done wonders for Tiana and all the girls have so much fun."