Waka women back in action after ’20 team gutted

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By TRACEY ROXBURGH

After Covid decimated its ranks, the Whakatipu women’s rugby team’s looking to make a comeback.

Coach Grant Scannell says the ramifications of the global pandemic on the ladies — many of whom were made redundant and forced to leave Queenstown — meant the Wakatipu Rugby Club couldn’t field a team in the Southland-based competition in 2020, despite having the strongest side he’s seen yet.

‘‘Last year I reckon we would have won the competition — I’ve never seen a women’s team like that for Wakatipu.’’

Now, however, Scannell’s looking to rebuild the ranks — already bolstered by the return of two Southland reps, including Laura Sadler who moved to Oamaru last year, but has since been rehired by AJ Hackett Bungy.

Scannell says the team this year’s being managed by Jacque Lattimore, a former Wakatipu High School rugby player, who’s working with the school to pull some Year 13 girls into the squad.

They’re also making overtures to the Cromwell rugby club, ‘‘to see if we can bring some of their girls over, too’’.

Scannell says the ladies’ first comp is a pre-season 7s tourney, being held at Pioneer, in Gore, on February 27.

Training’s underway — at the moment, that’s from 6.30pm every Wednesday at the Queenstown Rec Ground, ‘‘till we decide what the best night is for the girls’’, Scannell says.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz