Girls’First XV looking to the future

New kit . . . The South Otago High School girls’ First XV rugby team co› captain Jess Sheppard proudly shows off her team’s new jerseys, donated by Marshall Innovations as a grassroots sports promotion and presented by Fraser Hardware ITM’s Peter Gray. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

It has been a bumpy year in terms of results but the coaches and management team for the South Otago High School girls’ First XV rugby team believe they have the basis of a good team for the future.
One of the coaches, Dan Marshall, said because their numbers were boosted by a large contingent of younger year 11 players this year, it boded well for the future development of the team.
“There were over 30 in the team at the start of the season. Some dropped off through injury but most have stayed, coming to all the practices and games.
“Having the year 11 girls there means we will continue to grow as

 a team next year and those that love and enjoy playing will even get the chance to move up to the Big River women’s rugby team later on.”
Marshall said it was great to see all the girls come along this year to play, as in 2020 the school had only enough players to field a 10’s squad in the junior and senior girls’ competitions, which they won.
“They are the future of the sport here at the school and beyond.
‘‘We — Tony Pringle, Harley McHardy and myself — feel they are a great bunch of girls who have shown they love the sport, despite being beaten in most competition games this year, but they keep on coming back to learn how to play better,” he said.
The team plays in a small inter›school tournament against four other teams from Columba, St Hilda’s, Otago Girls’ and an alliance team made up of players from the other high schools in Dunedin.
Year 11 player Zara›Lee Tuhura endorsed the coaches’ comments and said she loved playing because she enjoyed the sport and loved having fun.
“I also do it because I like contact sports,” said the keen sportswoman, who is also a dab hand at speedway car driving out of the rugby season.
She said the sport kept her active and she loved being in a team.
“This team will go far because we have lots of good players and everyone is up for the challenge.”
Team co›captains Jess Sheppard and Lily Pringle said they loved the social environment that came with the game, and the fact they were making lifelong friends from the team.

    Jess said it taught them all about responsibility and leadership as it related to life, “because you can be hammered from every way in the game and yet you know these girls are alongside you [and] that makes it easier to get back up and into it again”.
Both believed the team would go far and build its strengths because “these girls are so lovely and have such bubbly personalities which makes it easy to play”, Jess said.
“We are such a young team and have so much to learn and look forward to,” she said.
The team’s last game of the season will be against Otago Girls’ High at South Otago High School’s rugby field on Wednesday, August 25, at 4pm.