Taranaki’s Tiana Davison has known rugby all her life.
“I started playing rugby when I was three. Mum and dad took my up the club and I got out there and went from there.”
Both her parents played the game and her father played representative schools rugby in Australia. Her younger sister is also lacing up the rugby boots now too.
So it was with immense pride that Tiana donned the coveted black jersey recently to represent New Zealand at the Oceania U18 Sevens Championship tournament in Sydney.
New Zealand beat Australia 21-7 in the final, which qualifies them to compete at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, in Argentina later this year – pending the NZOC’s approval for the team to participate.
Needless to say, Tiana and her teammates are jumping at that opportunity, should it arise.
The Oceania tournament was supposed to be a five-team event, but Samoa and Papua New Guinea were late withdrawals. So it turned into a tri-series between New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.
Tiana, who is year 13 at Sacred Heart Girls' College, New Plymouth, explained the trip.
“We started with a camp in Auckland before flying to Sydney. We played Fiji and Australia twice over two days and then played Australia in the final. We won all games except the second one against Australia.”
Tiana started four of the five games and was rested in the second Fiji game.
Tiana plays as a working prop in sevens rugby and as a flanker or No.8 in 15s.
Prior to that she captained her Sacred Heart team to ninth in last year’s Condor’s Sevens tournament and was selected in the Tournament Team and then made the New Zealand U17s that contested the second annual World Schools Tournament the following week.
“After playing for the U17s I was hoping I would have a good shot of making this year’s U18 team, but I thought that I actually didn’t trial as well as I probably should have – but I guess things like hard work and fitness shone through and made up for that a bit.”
This dedication and work ethic by Tiana has been praised elsewhere, not least by the coaches at the Taranaki Women’s Academy she is also a key part of.
“I certainly wasn’t expected to be selected for the U18s, but when it came it was awesome,” said the former Taranaki age group and current Taranaki Women’s 7s player.
Tiana and back Iritana Hohaia from Opunake High School were the two Taranaki players in the U18s side that recently won in Australia.
Now back at home, Tiana hopes to play some school 15s rugby coming up over the winter, as well as club rugby.
Tiana and several other schoolgirls from Scared Heart College and New Plymouth Girls’ High School, and one other from Inglewood High School, play club rugby for Clifton. This year there’s a three-team competition, also involving Southern and Coastal and they play on Friday nights.
Taranaki also hopes to re-enter the Women’s NPC Farah Palmer Cup this year after a five-year absence.
Rugby is Tiana’s main sport. “Rugby is mostly it, but I also play basketball and a little bit of Touch in the summer.”
Back at school, Tiana is one of two sports prefects at Sacred Heart - alongside national champion middle distance track and cross country runner Hannah O'Connor.
What’s coming up next year? “I am looking at going to Massey University in Palmerston North and studying something like Sports Management.”
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