Reality approach as Women win promotion to Division 1

By Taofia Bryce - Women's team manager

When things people dream about start to turn up in the real world, they pinch themselves really hard to make sure they’re still not lying around in bed.

On Monday this week, Marist St Pats women’s could no longer pinch themselves harder. They had just been told, as Division-2 winners, they have won promotion to the Premier Women’s Division-1. A goal they had set for their Division-2 campaign.

As the news started to sink in, congratulatory messages from Division-2 opponents started filtering in “wishing and encouraging us to do well,” said co-Manager Agnes Va’aua-Hamlin.

While MSP Board Chairman, Mr Mike Hansen who was on the sideline at the women’s final game last week also called in.

“The Club’s very pleased to see how the Women’s team is developing. There has clearly been a lot of work done off the field to prepare the team and this is showing in how it is performing on the field.

“Against Paramata Plimmerton, last week, there were some great tries scored with good skills and commitment displayed. Clearly there is a good team spirit.

“We look forward to watching the team develop further in the second round as you test yourselves in the higher grade. Good luck.”

MSP Director of Rugby, Mr John Bell has worked hard with the Managers to provide essentials for game day couldn’t be prouder.

“I have had the pleasure of witnessing the MSP women’s team play a number of times this season including their great display last Saturday to win the Division-2 competition.

“I’ve been very impressed by what I have seen both on and off the field in the way they conduct themselves in such a professional manner.

“They appear to have a great team spirit and have played some very skillful and entertaining rugby including a number of length of the field tries. They are a well organised team which is a testament to their management and coaching set up.

“I look forward to watching their continued growth as they get set to challenge themselves in Division-1.”

These messages from club and opponents alike highlight the values and strategic platform driving the development and progress of MSP women. It is aligned to the New Zealand Rugby Union’s Action Plan 2020, and World Rugby’s focus on developing the global growth of the women’s game. And New Zealand, as the summit of the rugby must be the beacon of what’s great about rugby,

“New Zealand is the rugby world’s super power in both men and women. Irrespective of what the results are at world cup tournaments, New Zealand is always the benchmark,” said co-Manager Tiatia Taofia Bryce.

“But with that mantle comes the responsibility for players, coaches and management to not just be the best in their respective rugby role; but also as human beings. And that is the approach our women’s set-up here at MSP has taken on, and you find those values and aspirations embedded in our Strategic Plan.”

It is from that platform where rugby and lifestyle values are combined that MSP women’s has slowly developed a culture that is growing belief, trust, respect, care which by default lead the girls to become the best that they can be. And that is what’s starting to be expressed on the field, in their results and 80-minute focus, and in the feedback and comments from the peripherals of rugby.

The players have yet to taste Division-1 rugby but they are realistic and pragmatic about their preparations, and abilities, as they look forward to their first match against Northern United this Saturday, 13 May, at Porirua Park.

The realism and objectivity in the MSP women’s camp is refreshing.

One of the forwards, Georgia Broughton assesses their progress as, “I think both our scrums and our lineouts have been going well and improving each game.

“But I think that is because of the level and abilities of our Division-2 opponents.

“I think the next games [Division-1] will really test our scrums and lineouts and we’ll see how well they really are.

“I also feel that as a very young and inexperienced forward pack that we lack confidence/aggression. And that’s why we’re looking forward to these upcoming games as they will test where we really are in terms of our rugby.”

Providing support to the management team are Ms Shanah Va’aua and Ms Tialemua Matini. Over the Division-2 round of the past five weeks she’s seen, “The forwards improved every week. But it was their defence line and line speed that was one of their main strengths and reason why they won all their games.

“Their fast paced rugby on the field is made possible by their training and commitment to be one of the fittest women’s teams. It’s one of the reasons why they’re able to quickly turn defence into attack and score long range tries.

“It’s great to be helping them because this is one young team that’s not only eager to learn but one that’s also highly motivated and goal driven.”

Developing the women’s game is becoming an ‘all of MSP club’ collective approach.

And key to the approach was approval by the Board of the MSP Women’s Strategic Action Plan 2017-2021 that contains its vision, ambition and purpose:

  • Our Vision is to inspire a nation.
  • Our Ambition is MSP to be Wellington’s leading club that enables women and rugby to be the best they can be on and off the field.
  • Our Purpose is to lead, grow, support and promote women’s rugby at all levels in 7’s and 15’s.

Out of this approach is a very simple hope as expressed by one MSP supporter: “to bring together people who are keen to see women celebrate their successes and open up avenues for our daughters and grand-daughters to enjoy our national sport.”

Already the Board has shown its commitment by establishing a Board position specifically for Women. Tiatia Taofia Bryce is the inaugural women’s board representative. She will attend her first board meeting on 17 May 2017.

Players and young women at the club are identified for strategic placement into programs such as refereeing, coaching, and shadowing coaches and selectors to start filling in institutional gaps with the aim of women taking over these positions as well as priming them for national positions in rugby.

To make MSP great, it needs the other clubs to be competitive and united on merit-based development. It is MSP’s intent that good healthy relations amongst clubs in the region will not deter, but help achieve its ambitions and vision. Already Petone Women’s Club as well as Hutt Old Boys Marist, and Auckland Marist are keen to collaborate and explore.

“We are in this for the long haul. We know that the women’s game is the growth area for rugby and with that come opportunities and careers for our players, daughters and grand-daughters,” said Mrs Agnes Va’aua-Hamlin

“We also know that for the Wellington region to be the top nationally, that can only happen if the clubs are strong. It’s one of the reasons we’re committed to our strategic plan and ambition for MSP to be Wellington’s leading club.

“So come this Saturday, our girls will get their first taste of Division-1 rugby, and whatever the outcome, they have clarity on what our goals are for this part of the journey.

“To do the best we can in Division-1 with a goal to be in the Top 3. And to build positive mutual relations with our opponents and their clubs towards Wellington as New Zealand’s top women’s rugby region.”


13 May 2017 11:35am MSP VS Northern United Porirua Park 2

13 May 2017 11:35am Old Boys United VS Wainui Nairnville 1

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