One of the young talents in the Wellington Pride squad, Milly is in her second year with the team. Milly has come through all junior representative grades and scooped up honours such as College Sport Wellington Female Rugby Player of the Year.
Milly has been involved in rugby her whole life, her dad coached rugby to a high level. He stopped coaching once Milly started playing Premier rugby at age of 16. Being an Activator means giving back to the game. I was once the young girl playing junior rugby with the boys, so this is a full circle moment.
“To me rugby is family. It allows you to connect with people young and old from all walks of life, and it is an environment that provides you with friends to last a lifetime. Through a sport like rugby where you are putting your body on the line, you learn skills that you can implement both in and out of rugby.”
Abby is a current Activator for Yeah! Girls Wellington as well as having a great passion for rugby. In addition, Abby is a cricketer playing Women’s for Wellington Collegians.
Abby believes that to grow women and girls in sport, you need to get girls interested at a young age. As they grow older you need to keep their enjoyment and ensure they’re having fun while getting opportunities to learn about the game.
“You can find a sense of community in a team. It’s an exciting and fast paced game and the rugby community is something I have always wanted to be a part of. The programme allows junior girls to connect with others from around the region while also learning and having fun at the same time.
Sophie has been playing for Pōneke since she was 6, and outside of rugby is a part of the NZ High Performance squad for Surf Lifesaving and a competitive swimmer.
Being able to give back to a sport that’s given Sophie a lot is a big part of why she plays and stays involved, and she hopes she can play a part in developing women and girls in rugby. She also enjoys the team environment and loves that rugby is a game for everyone.
“Rugby is for everyone, you don’t have to be the fittest, fastest, or strongest - whatever your strength is, you’ll be an asset on the field. Rugby Her Way is a huge investment into Women + Girls rugby, and equal opportunities will begin to present themselves, a great way to expose the talent we have in our game."
Bella came late to the rugby party, only picking it up in her last year of college. Having played a range of sports, the social aspect drew her in to continuing playing after leaving school. Last season she played for Old Boys University and spent this year at Petone. Rugby opening up a world of friendship, fun and the development of new skills.
The sisterhood as well as the mental and physical benefits are a large part of why Bella is involved in rugby, and encourages people to give rugby a go to make new connections and to stay active.
“Rugby Her Way offers a lot to women + girls. The opportunities through the activator programme that young girls have to get involved in rugby and give it a go! Being an activator means a lot to me, i can give back to a community that has given me so much and can provide young girls with opportunities in the sport I love!"
Coming from an extremely sports and competitive family, Jo has played a large number of different sports, excelling in swimming and athletics.
Jo believes the Rugby Her Way programme is perfect for people to make new connections and friends with a similar desire to do well in rugby, as well as developing and growing individual skills to help increase passion for the game. It is also a safe space for women and girls of all ages to give rugby a go and know they are understood and supported.
“I have always loved rugby, and once I no longer could play I decided that I would find ways to help grow the game. I have two daughters who have played and I want to be at the front leading the way for them to have equal opportunities.”
When it comes to rugby, Oneata has a wealth of experience. She has played for the Wallaroo’s, 4 Super Rugby W franchises, as well as some time in the NRLW.
Oneata loves a challenge, and has learnt a lot in her time, the highs and lows of sport which prepare you for life.
Being an Activator is important for Oneata, as she wishes she had mentors at a young age to share their lessons, how to prepare for injuries, for non-selection and to build resilience, and sharing that knowledge is a big part of how she delivers as an Activator.
“Why should people give Rugby a go? Why not? There is so much to learn from the game but it also helps you keep active and fit, while creating friendships to navigate you through life.”