St Taki has capped off an unbeaten season by winning the South Canterbury under-18 final.
The combined St Kevin’s College and Waitaki Girls’ High School girls rugby team beat Roncalli College 19-7 in Timaru last week to claim the title.
The final got off to a slow start. Neither team was able to score until the 30th minute, when St Taki second five-eighth Georgie McCarthy (16) made a break for it, blowing everyone away with a full-field try.
Co-captain Jasmine Emery (17) said the players were “screaming” at Georgie’s efforts, and once she scored “that really set us off”. Jasmine said it was an amazing feeling to win the trophy after working hard all season.
St Kevin’s and Waitaki Girls’ first joined together in 2018 to create a St Taki team, but returned to separate school teams for the 2019 season. Last year, St Kevin’s fielded a team, and a few Waitaki Girls’ players played for the side, but this season the two school’s combined to create St Taki again.
“I love playing with the girls. We all have a really great team and a great bond. It’s definitely good getting a lot of other people involved,” co-captain Katie Richardson (17) said.
St Taki was unbeaten all season, seeing off teams from Timaru Girls’ High School, Craighead Diocesan, Roncalli College, Geraldine High School and Ashburton College.
St Taki even beat Ashburton with only 14 players.
“It definitely felt really good beating them,” Katie said.
Both Katie and Jasmine agreed this season was harder than previous years. Players pushed in scrums for the first time and all teams had improved.
Playing as a tight-head prop, Katie said pushing in scrums was a daunting experience.
intimidating, but it probably was a good challenge and good thing to learn before going to play at a higher grade,” she said.
The girls put the team’s success down to the coaching unit of North Otago Rugby’s Josh Phipps, Georgie Sturgess, and former St Kevin’s first XV coach John Hanning.
Phipps, who works at the St Kevin’s hostel and plays for Excelsior, was an asset to the group, they said.
“Josh has really pushed us hard and made us do extra sessions. He’s probably one of the reasons we won the competition,” Katie said.
Several St Taki players will now compete in the Hanan Shield.