Hamilton Girls’ High School rose to the top of the secondary girls rugby tree again, winning the Hine Pounamu Top 4 Trophy for the first time since 2015 on the back of winning last December’s Condor Sevens.
But in an increasingly competitive girls rugby landscape – both in 15s and 7s rugby – there are more contenders putting their hands up to challenge in the future. Following the Top 4, the New Zealand U18 Girls team won gold at the Youth Olympic Games, while a number of schoolgirls made their debuts in the Women’s NPC Farah Palmer Cup competition.
Our contenders are below for our fourth annual Champion of Champions series – vote in the poll - scroll down below.
Glory Aiono and Ana Mamea – Aorere College – Chosen together in this list, Aiono and Mamea were Aorere College’s two standout players at the Top 4 tournament. Playing lock and loose forward, they impressed with their damaging ball running and helped Aorere come back from an opening day defeat to Hamilton GHS to beat Southland in their second game to finish third. Both then played for Counties-Manukau in the Women’s NPC competition, both appearing in all eight matches for the Heat. Aoino played the last four matches including the final in the starting XV while Mamea scored two tries on debut against Waikato and then scored two tries in the Premiership final against Canterbury.
Carys Dallinger – Manukura – The Manukura fullback produced the individual performance of the Top 4 tournament in early September, scoring three tries and setting up two more against Southland GHS. Her pace and skill helped propel Manukura to their maiden final, in which they lost to rampant winners Hamilton GHS. Previously, Dallinger had been a key player in Manukura beating last year’s Top 4 champions St Mary’s College 38-33 in the Hurricanes region decider. Dallinger was one of four Manukura players in this year’s Manawatu Cyclones squad and made three Women’s NPC appearances including two starts at fullback. She subsequently joined her Manukura teammate Kalyn Takitimu-Cook in the gold medal-winning NZ U18 Youth Olympic Games team.
Tiana Davison – Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth - Hard work paid off this year for Sacred Heart’s sports prefect Tiana Davison when she returned to New Zealand in October with a gold medal around her neck. Davison and the New Zealand U18 Sevens team rallied to beat France in the Youth Olympics final. Started playing rugby aged three and captains her school sevens and fifteens team, and plays for Clifton on the burgeoning Taranaki competition. A high work rate and a committed defender. Nominated as a Taranaki Senior Sportswoman of the year.
Amy Rule – Aparima College - The Head Girl of her school in Riverton played for Winton’s Central Southland College this year in the local school competition and played club rugby for the Blues Club. Otago Spirit coach Scott Manson (a former prop) picked the specialist tighthead prop in Otago’s squad and she played six matches including two starts against Counties Manukau and Tasman and 25 minutes off the bench in the Championship final against a blockbusting Wellington team.
Montessa Tairakena (Hamilton Girls’ High School) - Montessa, who switches comfortably between halfback and wing, was a nightmare for all opposition this year. She started the year in try-scoring mood at the Sir Gordon Tietjens 7s in Palmerston North. At Hamilton Girls she helped he First XV complete an unbeaten season and back in Palmerston North she scored three tries in the National Top Four semi-final and two in the decider. Even better was to come at the Youth Olympics in Argentina where Montessa helped New Zealand win their first ever goal medal - scoring a try in the 15-12 victory over France in the final.
Who would be your Girls First XV Player of the Year? Vote in the poll below
2017: Grace Brooker (Christchurch Girls’ High School)
2016: Rina Paraone (Kaipara College)
2015: Ayesha Leti-L'iga (Porirua College)
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2018. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand