A steep decline in the number of registered female rugby players was the catalyst for King Country Rugby Union (KCRU) to develop the new Les Elder Wahine Toa Secondary School Program.
Through consultation with local high schools and the community, KCRU found that cost, travel and the inability to field full squads due to these factors discouraged schools from entering teams in the competitions.  
“We thought there was a real opportunity here to develop a program that helped to remove some of these barriers and encouraged more secondary school females to join. By keeping it local, we believe we can encourage more players to the game,” said Kurt McQuilkin, General Manager of King Country Rugby Union.
The program will begin with a rugby 7s festival day in late March followed by an open day and 10-a-side competition in May. The open day comprises Tiki Edwards (NZ Rugby) delivering his E Tu Rangatahi Program (using rugby skill development with an emphasis on teaching life skills within Kaupapa Maori), KCRU teaching injury prevention and nutrition followed by a first round of games.
“As identified in the Sport New Zealand survey of girls and young women, young females 10-17 years are less likely to be active informally, so it’s important that we build support around our rangatahi (teenagers) in the form of a female only competition with specific coaching for the growing female body,” McQuilkin said.
KCRU have been engaged in conversations with Sport Waikato (via their women and girls initiative This is ME®) about opportunities to grow the women’s game in the King Country area. Sport Waikato had noticed increased appetite for women’s rugby in the district and were pleased to be able to support this initiative via Tu Manawa Active Aotearoa funding targeted to the region from Sport New Zealand. Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper said the program would be a great asset for sport in the Taupo, Waitomo and Otorohanga districts, and is pleased that the two organisations have worked together to bring this opportunity to the community.
“KCRU have really looked at the barriers to participation for young women in high deprivation areas and what they need in order to participate. Removing some of these barriers is key to ensuring a great outcome and we’re really looking forward to seeing the results of this exciting local program and continuing to support the organisation to offer more opportunities of this sort.”
The program will run in the Te Kuiti, Turangi, Taumarunui, Taupo, Otorohanga, Piopio
and other areas of the King Country. 

Kurt McQuilkin | General Manager – King Country Rugby Union
generalmanager@kingcountryrugby.co.nz | 027 510 0944
Lisa Bishop | Communications & Marketing Lead – Sport Waikato
lisab@sportwaikato.org.nz | 021 240 9171

Note: The next round of Tu Manawa funding closes 1 May 2021 


New program encourages more secondary school females to play rugby

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