North Otago women’s rugby is getting the end to the season it deserves.
The North Otago team, made up predominantly of Waitaki Wahine club players, will travel to Fairlie on Sunday for the final round of the Heartland Rugby 10s Festival. It is the third festival after one in Hinds on July 3 and Methven on July 24.
The festivals involved the five South Island Heartland unions — South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury, a combined West Coast and Buller side and North Otago — fielding a team to create opportunities for women to play outside of their local club rugby competitions.
North Otago player Anjelica Matapo said her side went undefeated in the Hinds festival, which was a great send›off for the team’s American imports, Lora Matway and Patsy Ford.
‘‘That was an awesome weekend,’’ Matapo said.
Despite losing all its games at the Methven festival, North Otago took a lot out of the matches to help them prepare for Sunday. She expected a big battle against South Canterbury, with each union having won a game each.
But the tournament was about more than just the games. There were tackle clinics and scrum safety workshops that all the teams participated in together, as well as combined lunches, and bouncy castles to keep the children entertained and give mothers the opportunity to play.
It was an inclusive and family› friendly environment, Matapo said.
Black Ferns players and the Women’s Rugby World Cup were present at the Methven tournament, and young female players led the teams on to the field, and were assistant referees and ball girls.
‘‘It’s such a cool tournament. It’s real collaborative and it’s just amazing.’’
It allowed the players, and unions, to build relationships and gave players another opportunity to play the game they loved, after such a short season with the Waitaki Wahine, she said.
‘‘We want to make clear pathways for local school leavers and current female players who don’t necessarily get a lot of game time during our normal season.’’
Bryce Robins, Epineri Logavatu and Waitaki Wahine captain Lucy Taupo had been coaching the team and had done a great job, Matapo said.
The North Otago women’s team hoped to bring home the Heartland Women’s Rugby cup, a koru made of Oamaru stone, on Sunday.