As women's rugby grows so does the skill level and one way to continue the development of our local teams and players is to ensure they are testing those skills in as many different environments as possible. One way the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union is doing that is with the Battle of the Kaimais. Established last year, the annual championship sees Bay of Plenty's top women's teams take on their Waikato counterparts with the aim of creating regular, meaningful competition between the two unions. Tomorrow, Rangiuru, Rangataua and Mount Maunganui will make the trip.
Inter-provincial bragging rights are up for grabs tomorrowas Rangiuru, Rangataua and Mount Maunganui's women's rugby teams travel to Hamilton for the Battle of the Kaimais.
As part of the annual championship that was established last year to create regular, meaningful competition between the Bay of Plenty and Waikato rugby unions' top women's teams, Rangataua will play Oldboys, Rangiuru play Melville and Mount Maunganui will take on Varsity in a day-long celebration of women's rugby.
Rangiuru and Rangataua finished phase one of the Baywide women's competition in first and second respectively and while Mount Maunganui are in fifth place, the teams above them cannot make the trip so they leapt at the opportunity.
Rangiuru captain Christie Yule played in the annual challenge last year and said it was an opportunity for each of the teams to test themselves in a different environment.
"It's always exciting to get that old rivalry of Waikato and Bay of Plenty happening and then even more so when you've got such pride in your own club to find out who's the best of the Chiefs region," Yule said.
"It's a great idea, I always enjoy a new challenge and the opportunity to test our club against another region and another style of game. The more we can experience different styles and different ways of playing the game, the more it'll grow not only our club but also our region when it comes to Volcanix season later in the year."
She expected a tough challenge from the Waikato teams. Waikato are the current holders of the Battle of the Kaimais Shield after winning three of the four games played last year.
It's a great idea, I always enjoy a new challenge and the opportunity to test our club against another region and another style of game.
"I expect a really good and big physical challenge, they'll be super fit and quite well drilled I imagine. I believe [former New Zealand representative] Honey Hireme is still the coach of the Melville team so it's going to be a good challenge for our Rangiuru girls."
Yule said having the Battle of the Kaimais mid-season, rather than at the end like last year, meant there was more buy-in from the clubs.
"Last year when we did it at the end of the season, some of the teams sort of felt like they'd done their dash. It's a great way to break it up and get some variety during the season."
Mount Maunganui coach Mitch Logan said there was no hesitation from his players when they were given the opportunity to compete. Being new to the Baywide competition this year, any on-field experience they can gain is crucial.
"Obviously, the first round for us is finished so it's just another team to play against and a different place to play at. It just gives more exposure to the game for the ones who are new in the team as well.
"We'll definitely get a good challenge, it's always good going over and playing in a different province and I've heard they do quite well over there."
He said he wanted to see his side continue doing what they had been doing all year, which was simply going out and giving their all.
"We're loving it at the moment, the ladies are always in good spirits and just love playing the game."
Battle of the Kaimais
Tomorrow, June 16
11am Mount Maunganui v Varsity at Waikato University, 11am Rangataua v Oldboys at Willoughby Park, 1pm Rangiuru v Melville at Willoughby Park.
Whakarewarewa 49 Southern United 5, Waikite 0 University 86, Rangiuru 12 Hamilton Old Boys 29, Rangataua 3 Melville 54.