Rugby women vet new blood

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By Cpl Zenith King

It was a black day all round on Friday, May 13, when the Australian Army Rugby Union Women (AARU-W) took on the might of the New Zealand Army team in the Lou Gardner Cup in New Zealand. An inexperienced Army team minus many of its key players was soundly beaten 64-0 by the Kiwis, but managed to find some light in the dark score line.

The Aussies managed to keep the Kiwis scoreless until the 20th minute but limited opportunities and a poor start in the second half let them down.

Sgt Ionie Jackson, Army School of Health, said playing against the NZ Army team was an amazing experience.
“Obviously it was going to be a tough game for us, we had a huge turnover of new players and four of our girls had never played before,” she said.

“For their first game of rugby to be against arguably the best Defence women’s rugby side in the world today is exceptional.”

Sgt Jackson said the depth of NZ rugby union was something they couldn’t match at the moment. “The NZ Army number 15 has been playing since she was four years old, she’s 17 and has already trained for the Black Ferns,” she said.

The team was based out of Linton Military Camp in Palmerston North for their 12-day tour which aimed to develop new players and expose current players to a higher standard of rugby.

Lt Rheanna Vehlow, 6ESR, was one of the players that had never played rugby before the trip. “I grew up an AFL girl, but some of the players knew I could put a decent tackle on, so I was asked to jump on board,” Lt Vehlow said.

Lt Vehlow said a key part of their training was to understand the cultural significance of the haka. “I was touched by the emotional connection the Kiwis share when they come together to deliver a Haka, and the pride they feel when they get the opportunity to do it is obvious.

While in NZ the Army team wore pink training jerseys and linked their pink attire to the McGrath Foundation and raised more than $600 in the fight against breast cancer.

Too strong: Army tries to stop the formidable Kiwis in the Lou Gardner Cup played in New Zealand. Photo by AC Alysha Nevard, NZDF.


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