Payton Takimoana has had rugby on her mind from a young age.
“I have known about rugby ever since I can remember and I have been playing since I was five,” she said.
“Ever since I put my hands on that ball, I fell in love with the game.”
Four years ago, at the start of year 10, Payton moved down from Waihi to Mount Maunganui College seeking greater opportunities in sport and education.
“I moved here for a year without my family and stayed with family friends, but then my family moved here as well.
“It has been the best move ever, there have been so many opportunities here.”
Last week one of those opportunities opened up for Payton when she was named as the youngest member of the Bay of Plenty Volcanix squad for the Women’s NPC Farah Palmer Cup competition, which starts this weekend.
Payton, 17, is the only school student selected for BoP in 2021, but she is far from overawed by her selection and possible FPC debut in the coming weeks.
Up to a dozen of her Mount Maunganui Marlins club rugby team teammates are also her provincial teammates.
“All these players have helped me improve a lot and being around and learning off the best players has been so good for me.”
She also regularly trains at the nearby Adams High Performance Centre – home of the Black Ferns Men’s and Women’s Sevens training squads.
“I have been training with the BoP players about five times a week." This also includes rubbing shoulders with the Black Ferns players. “I am close friends with some of them, so I know them well.”
A few weeks ago, Payton was part of the Marlins team that won a thrilling 2021 BoP Women's Premier club rugby final, beating Rangiuru 25-24 with a last-gasp winning penalty after conceding a 79th minute try. This was Payton’s club’s maiden club rugby title in her second season in the team.
Payton played second five-eighth that day, but that is not her usual position. “I played at 12, but I had been playing first-five throughout the season and also last year.”
Following the final, she was picked in a wider BoP Women’s initial wider squad and has already played two pre-season games. They beat Hawke’s Bay 29-17 and lost to Counties Manukau 5-12. “That was a definite step up for me– I found it more aggressive and faster than club rugby, but I loved it.”
In those games she played variously at fullback, wing and first-five – so her versatility and utility value as a fresh face in the backs is a strength.
Last week she was waiting for the selection announcement by her phone. “I was checking social media every couple of minutes and when I saw my name I was happy!”
She also plays rugby for her school team, who play every Monday in a Baywide competition. “But we only play 10-a-side rugby because we don’t have enough girls players."
That may change in the future now that Payton is showing the way for the younger sports girls coming through.
She plays sevens rugby, but her school hasn’t been able to muster a side to attend the Condor 7s tournament in her time there.
“But last year I made the New Zealand Maori U18 sevens team who played in the World Schools Sevens tournament that was played a week after Condors. I have also just the New Zealand Maori U18 15-a-side camp, which is coming up later this month in Rotorua.”
She has also represented BoP in U16s and U18s sevens and a highlight was playing a touring Japanese side.
She also has a background in other sports, having played netball when young and more recently basketball, although this year her sole focus is on rugby. A recent school and age-grade representative basketball teammate has been Melika Samia who recently made the selection camp for the New Zealand Tall Ferns as the only school player to do so.
In the summer she used to do athletics in Waihi and plays touch “I play in whanau teams on Wednesday and Thursday nights, it is mostly social touch, but I used to play for Thames Valley touch up in Paeroa.”
As well as all the talented rugby players and sportspeople Payton regularly rubs shoulders with, another key influence on her is her father.
“Definitely my dad. He used to play rugby in Waihi and I have always looked up to him and he was a major reason why I started playing when I was young."
She also thanks her teachers at school for helping her get to where she is.
On the subject of school and the future, her obvious goal is to see how far her rugby career can go. “But on top that I may go to Toi Ohomai and look to do a sport and recreation course.
“And to work up to trying to make the Black Ferns team – that has been my goal for so many years.
In the meantime, a possible Farah Palmer Cup debut beckons for Payton.
The Volcanix open their season and the competition this Saturday afternoon against Auckland at Eden Park, followed by matches over the following several weeks against Counties Manukau (away), Waikato (home), Canterbury (away), Otago (home) and Wellington (home).
Interview and story by Steven White, for College Sport Media. July 2021. Photos by Rick Moran/BoP Rugby.
The city of Nelson is named after Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar. The British flag officer in the Royal Navy was renowned for his inspirational leadership, grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics. In the last dozen years of his life he functioned with one eye too.
Even the most one-eyed Nelson supporter would have surely flagged their prospects of retaining the Quadrangular title midway through the final against hosts Christ’s College.
Down 20-3, Nelson was cracked open three times, the same way. Assertive forward charges were followed by skip passes from pivot Jack Shearer to the flying wing of Jack Belcher who completed a first-half hat-trick. Christ’s were held up over the strip and denied from a narrow forward pass too.
Nelson’s only hint of promise was late in the first-half when they enjoyed prolonged possession.
Strategy and tactics for Nelson? Simple. Abort the kick and retain the ball even if that’s unconventional deep inside the 22. The leadership came from centre Ollie Inch and the seniors in the pack, most notably hooker Dylan Irvine and brutish flanker Netani Baleisomosomo.
It was a searing break by Irvine from 22 to 22 that super-charged the Nelson resurgence. A penalty and lineout maul stuffed the Christ’s pack and the score was 20-8.
The Nelson bench supplied additional punch with loose forward Joseph Domoni at the forefront. His gilding run created space and a try for Luc Waterman-Thomas. The sideline conversion to Cooper Grant shaved the deficit to 20-15.
Without fear of exaggeration Baleisomosomo might have handled 40 times throughout. His raw power and workrate was a sight to behold and when his blonde mop of hair was last to emerge from a pile of bodies it was 20-20 with 20 minutes left.
Christ’s, at last, pilfered a turnover but Shearer was off target with the penalty shot. However Nelson’s stray in discipline reopened the door for the hosts who soon took the lead with a lineout drive of their own.
Shearer plays with a maturity beyond his years and a cross kick to the right wing led to a dispute involving multiple hands and a denied Christ’s try. They had hit posts with an earlier conversion as well!
Those near misses would be punished by the visitors' military precision. A relentless barrage of “pick and goes” and “one-off the ruck” surges positioned Nelson near the Christ’s sticks.
Irvine-intervention! Dylan thrust ahead and muscled over with the last play of the game. The conversion was kicked by Grant and Nelson salvaged an improbable 27-25 triumph. Nelson have won the tournament 27 times and five times in the last seven years.
Whanganui Collegiate beat Wellington College 24-15 in the consolation final. Stafford Lithgow (2) and Henry Strang scored tries with three conversions and a penalty added by Shaun O'Leary. Stanley Solomon kicked an early penalty for Wellington who were otherwise chasing the game, despite tries from Sam Meo and Tofuka Paongo.
Whanganui failed to win a single quad match from 2007 to 2017. Under the guidance of Englishman Steve Simpson they have restored a flagging reputation. They are currently third in the Central North Island series with six victories in seven matches, and almost certainly guaranteed a semi-final place in a tourney that features perennially strong opposition like: Wesley College, Lindisfarne College, St Paul’s Collegiate, Feilding High School and St Peter’s Cambridge.
On day one Nelson College defeated Whanganui Collegiate 41-14 and the hosts edged Wellington College 28-23 in another genuine thriller.
Nelson and Whanganui started at a breakneck speed with three cracking tries scored in the first 10 minutes. Gradually the Nelson pack assumed control with productive lineout drives and an assertive scrum. The halftime score was 17-7. Nelson scored quickly after the break to make it 24-7 at which point Whanganui were unlikely winners, despite some daring and occasionally clinical back play.
It was perhaps ironic then lock Harvey Mayer and hooker Adam Beard were the source of Whanganui’s tries. O’Leary added two conversions and beside centre Waqa Waqaicece was constructive and dangerous.
Baleisomosomo was damaging and his try under the posts in the 37th minute was a rich reward. Irvine was busy and bustling, and crashed over from a maul. Grant ran a steady ship at ten and Inch had the last say.
It took an inspired period of 10 minutes for Christ’s College to overcome Wellington College 28-23. In a game of frequent lead changes, Wellington scored their third, and most spectacular, try with about 20 minutes remaining to nudge ahead 20-17.
Rampant wing Josh Williams barged down the left touchline to help the visitors wriggle out of their territory. The ball was then transferred right for No.8 Ashton Teau who chipped ahead. A chase ensured and hooker Michael Gordon gathered on the fly, outpacing a pack of retreating chasers.
Shearer then employed his boot with equally damaging effect, cross kicking for fullback Angus Hammett who gathered on the full, stumbled in an ankle tap a metre before the sideline, and fired inside to No.8 Hendrix ‘Voodoo Child’ Taylor who touched down.
Shearer added two further penalties to stretch Christ’s advantage to 28-20. Taylor spearheaded an imperious forward effort which suggested Wellington would wilt completely. However, Wellington rallied and a Stanley Solomon penalty sliced the deficit to five forcing Christ’s into tackle mode for the remainder of time.
With the support of a boisterous crowd, Christ’s started strongly and captain Johnny Lee opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Lee was briefly subdued when Wellington second-five Ben Gordon and Williams breached the defense out wide but the classy blindside showed his resolve with a second try as Christ’s lead was 15-12 at the interval.
A shout out to the gruff voiced Sideline commentator. All four matches were announced with boundless enthusiasm.
Quadrangular Tournament history:
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