This coming weekend’s eighth annual Girls Top 4 rugby tournament features the champion schools from the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and combined Crusaders/Highlanders regions.
Southland Girls’ High School were the South Island winners and representatives for the first seven years, and won the title in 2016.
Their run of appearances has been broken and five-time Crusaders UC Cup champions Christchurch Girl’s High School will be there for the first time this year.
On Friday, Christchurch GHS meet Auckland’s Onehunga High School in one semi-final, while Hamilton Girls’ High School play Manukura in the other, in a replay of last year’s decider for the Hine Pounamu Trophy (won by Hamilton).
Christchurch Girls’ High School’s co-captains are first five-eighth Alice Dalzell and blindside flanker Charlotte Allen.
Alice said that Christchurch GHS are excited to be going to the Top 4 for the first time.
“At the start of the year our goal was to retain the UC Cup and win in the South Island, which we have achieved and we are really proud of that,” said Alice.
“Going up to Palmerston North will be a new experience for the players, but we have prepared for this opportunity all season and have put in extra trainings since the start of term two.”
Last year, Christchurch GHS were beaten 0-39 by Southland GHS in the South Island decider, but last weekend turned that result around by defeating Dunedin’s St Hilda’s Collegiate 71-21.
“It has been great to see how our team has grown and everyone has come together so well this year,” said Alice. “We don’t have star players but everyone plays for each other.”
Co-captain Charlotte agreed. “One thing we asked the girls before last weekend’s South Island final against St Hilda’s was for them to come off the field afterwards feeling like they had played the best game they had ever played in and then no matter what the score was we would be happy.”
“Every girl on the field did that, and it was whole team effort and that is why we achieved the result we did against St Hilda’s.”
Christchurch GHS previously beat Darfield High School in the final of the Canterbury-wide UC Cup competition that is played on Wednesdays throughout the season.
Heading into Friday’s Top 4 semi-finals, Christchurch GHS’s season record is: played 13, won 13, points for 835, points against 72. The leading points scorers are Mia Cochrane (159) and Naia Toaolamai- Holden (133). The top try-scorer is Alice Hutchinson, who has scored 19 tries.
Co-captains Alice Dalzell and Charlotte are one of several year 13 players who have been in the team for a few seasons, so the trip to the Top 4 will be extra special for the school leavers.
Equally, there will be a similar number of year 9 and 10 players in the Top 4 squad, so win, lose or draw this weekend it will be a well-balanced side and also one that they can build for the future.
Some of the older players play Senior Women’s club rugby in Christchurch, for High School Old Boys.
Several players also play sevens for the school and have experience playing against the North Island schools at the annual Condor 7s in December.
A couple will bring experience playing other sports to a high level, such as No. 8 Jaidyn Busch who is the defending NZSS Senior Girls and U20 Women’s Australian Shot Put champion.
Christchurch Girls' High School Top 4 squad:
Alice Dalzell, Alice Hutchinson, Anna Sweeney, Charlotte Allen, Eliza Dalzell, Erin Humm, Gemma Diedrich, Harriet Cochrane, Holly Wratt-Groeneweg, Jaidyn Busch, Jordan Sanders, Jorja Miller, Kezia Fowler, Blyth,Libby Thomas, Loren Edwards, Mackenzie Allan, Maggie Kelly, Mele Fifita, Mia Cochrane, Michaela Horler, Naia Toaolamai Holden, Rhiannon Merhtens, Rylee Munro, Salome Naikau.
The Top 4 trophy
The girls play for the Hine Pounamu Trophy, which previously was a challenge trophy first presented in 2012 by Rugby Girl and on the line every time the holder took the field against inter-provincial opposition. It is now designated as the main prize at this tournament.
Top 4 tournament winners:
2012: Feilding High School
2013: Feilding High School
2014: Hamilton Girls’ High School
2015: Hamilton Girls’ High School
2016: Southland Girls’ High School
2017: St Mary’s College
2018: Hamilton Girls’ High School
2019 Hine Pounamu Trophy semi-finals (Friday 7 September, at Massey University):
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