So far just two schools have won the Girls Top 4 rugby tournament since its inception in 2012. Feilding High School won the first two and Hamilton Girls’ High School were crowned winners in 2014 and 2015, and this weekend the Hamilton school returns to Palmerston North hoping to retain the Hine Pounamu RugbyGIRL Trophy.
Representing the Chiefs region, Hamilton Girls’ High School are joined in the Girls Top 4 by Southland Girls’ High School (Highlanders/Crusaders) and first time qualifiers Kaipara College (Blues) and St Mary’s College (Hurricanes).
The format sees Hamilton Girls’ High School and St Mary’s College meet in one semi-final on Friday and Southland Girls’ High School and Kaipara College play in the other. The teams return on Sunday with the winners from day one playing in the Final to decide the 2016 National Champion and the losers meeting in a third and fourth placed playoff match.
Hamilton Girls’ High School has been playing in the Waikato Secondary Schoolgirls competition this year. Coach Dean Devcich explained the team’s recent path to the Top 4.
“We beat Te Awamutu College in the Waikato final to advance to the Chiefs final. This was the third time we had played Te Awamutu this season after narrowly winning both round-robin fixtures. The final was a different story - played on home turf the girls were well prepared for finals rugby and ran out eventual winners 72-0. The forward pack laid a strong platform and [centre] Jazmin Hotham scored five tries.
“This put us through to play Tauranga Girls’ College in the Chiefs final, whom we had lost to in a traditional fixture between the schools a few weeks prior. On that occasion Tauranga beat our girls up at ruck time and we eventually got tipped up in a close match 22-25.
“However, our players prepared well this time and after another keenly contested match we came out victors, with Jazmin Hotham again staring with good support from Rianna Aspinal.”
Dean said that Hamilton is re-building this year after recent successes.
“We have several Year 10s and 11s. It is probably a 50/50 split between players returning from last year and new players coming in, so to make it to the Top 4 is a huge honour and is payback for this group of girls who have worked so hard to get this far.”
Dean noted that Hamilton has few expectations on what the other sides will bring this year.
“The new teams that have qualified is great for the competition. All we know is that as a playing and coaching group we will be leaving no stone unturned and the tank will be empty at the end of each game regardless of the result.
“The support from the school has been immense with Marie Gordon our Principal often being a keen spectator and supporter. Marie has supported the Rugby here at HGHS with passion and pride and the girls would love nothing else than to not only go all the way for themselves but also for Marie and to represent their school to a high level.”
The Hamilton Girls’ High School squad is:
Rianna Aspinal, Lena Mitchell, Ana Teokotai, Litara Allan, Ali Mills, Nyesha Hamilton, Tara Kingin, Agnus Solofa, Kiana Beattie, Calista Wihone, Muri Martell, Jazmin Hotham, Keely Jennings, Kelly Forward, Kiriana Nolan, Daniella Shepard, Riria McFayden, Stephanie Lualua, Katie Hunia.
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