A group of secondary school girls are involved in the nine provincial squads in this year’s Farah Palmer Cup Women’s NPC rugby competition.
The Farah Palmer Cup started last weekend, and all three of North Harbour’s secondary school squad members played in their side’s 31-11 win over Bay of Plenty. These players are Rina Paraone (Kaipara College), Pia Tapsell (Takapuna Grammar School) and Florida Fatanitivake (Glenfield College).
This week College Sport Media caught up with two of these players, Rina and Pia, about their growing rugby careers outside school.
Name: Rina Paraone
Secondary School: Kaipara College
Playing positions: midfield, winger
Name: Pia Tapsell
Secondary School: Takapuna Grammar School
Playing positions: Loose forwards - No.8 and Flanker
College Sport Media: When did you start playing rugby?
Rina Paraone: My first year playing rugby was in 2015 (last year) when I was 16. However I started playing rugby Sevens in 2013. My brothers influenced me to play because I wanted to do whatever they did. The Harbour union also has given me lots of opportunities to be involved with rugby.
Pia Tapsell: I first started playing rugby when I was eight. I played for my local club, North Shore Rugby Club, and was in J5. I had gone along with my parents and younger Brother to his rippa muster and was probably a little too keen to get dirty and run around with all the boys outside the club. I wanted to play rippa but my parents told me I was too old and would have to play tackle. We ended up getting half way home before I decided that I wanted play.
CSM: What school and club rugby do you play?
Rina Paraone: At the moment Kaipara College is currently playing in the North Harbour 10s competition, with the final play-offs next week. However with fifteens coming up we are starting to train for the Blues competition, fingers crossed it all goes kapai.
Pia Tapsell: Over the past couple of years I have been playing for Hato Petara College in the 10s competition. Both years we made the finals and came close to winning with almost half of our team making the North Harbour U18 School girls team too. I had played both secondary schools and club last year but this year the team I played for (East Coast Bays Women’s), due to our success last year, had made it into the top grade, so I decided to focus on playing Women’s club rugby. Although the season was definitely a step up from the development grade and we took a while to adjust, as a team we grew and learnt more and more as the season continued.
CSM: What’s a memorable rugby moment?
Rina Paraone: One of my most memorable rugby moments was probably winning the North Harbour 10s competition last year. Would have had to be the toughest final I had ever played. But I think to date my proudest moment is being part of the Hibiscus (FPC) team. Even being in that type of environment for me is an experience in itself.
Pia Tapsell: One of my most memorable rugby moments would have to have been when myself (along with Rina and Florida) were selected to participate in the Women’s Sevens Super Series. We got to play alongside some of NZ’s top and up and coming players as well as some of our idols. Although the most memorable part of this experience was when I managed to split my eyelid open in a head-clash and wasn’t able to play the next day, but was instead left with quite a puffy swollen black eye.
CSM: Do you also play Sevens rugby and have you competed in the Condor Sevens?
Rina Paraone: Yes I play for my school, I love Sevens so much. I’ve competed in Condors twice and hopefully I get to again this year.
Pia Tapsell: My school didn’t have a team for the Secondary School Sevens competition so I played for Hato Petera again. Due to the fact my school hasn’t got a team I have been unable to compete in Condors however I did play in the North Harbour Womens Sevens team.
CSM: What other sports do you play?
Rina Paraone: Sport pretty much runs through my blood. I’ve played touch rugby for my school team who are going to nationals this year, also for North Harbour and Waikato. I’ve played netball since I was 6 (wish I started playing rugby back then) and it’s mostly just a hobby now, Waka ama for Kaipara and even football.
Pia Tapsell: I used to play netball and touch and really enjoyed them however it got too hard to juggle all my trainings and school work so eventually had to sacrifice them. I also started playing tag a couple of years ago and made it into the NZ U18 team for the Tag World Cup over in Australia and the Trans-Tasman Series, however again this year I have had to cut down in order to balance both school and sport.
CSM: Do you have rugby or sporting role models?
Rina Paraone: Omg yes! Portia, she is actually a god. Straight up my idol. I also look up to my older brother who inspires me every day to be the best that I can be. Oh I can’t forget my team mates, the girls in my FPC team, they’re so supportive and I have so much respect for them.
Pia Tapsell: It’s a little bit predictable but Portia Woodman. The work ethic and dedication she puts into the sport is inspiring. She is so passionate about the game but yet so humble about her skill and achievements. I’d also have to say Chelsea Alley. Purely because of her love and dedication for game and how much she has done not only for me but the North Harbour Rugby union as well. Not only does she play the game but works incredibly hard off the field growing and promoting the game and encouraging young girls to play and developing those who already are. The amount of opportunities she has created and provides for us have been amazing and I’m sure she is probably idolised by many young girls in our region.
CSM: What would you say to other school girls hesitant to try rugby?
Rina Paraone: Get out and give it a go, you never know. I’m just a girl who fell in love with the game, and you might too.
Pia Tapsell: Honestly just give it a go. At first it will seem quite scary and you may not know anyone but you’re always going to be scared and get knocked around a bit at first, and in any sport that will happen, but the more you put in the more you will get out. Take a friend along with you if you need to and do it together! Rugby will literally change your life. You will meet so many new people and they will not only become your friends but your sisters too. The skills you learn will not only apply on the field but off the field too. Not to mention the fact that Womens Rugby has made such a massive jump over the past couple of years that anything is possible, and if you’re passionate enough it can even become a career for you.
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