The Northern United Premier Women's team was presented with the first Wellington club trophy of the year on Saturday, the first round Fleurs Trophy (above). Norths, who wrapped up the title the previous week in taking an unassailable lead into their last match of the five-week round-robin competition, line up alongside the other five women's clubs this weekend for the start for the second round Victoria Tavern Trophy.
The 12-week Victoria Tavern Trophy is a double round-robin competition leading to semi-finals and a final and is the next leg of a busy season for the region's leading and aspiring representative women's players.
With places up for grabs in the respective Wellington Pride, Black Ferns and New Zealand Sevens Women's squads, Norths co-coach and former Pride and Black Ferns flanker Aimee Sutorius said there's much to play for over the next couple of months for Wellington's players.
"There's heaps to play for this season," Sutorius explained. "Not only for places in the Wellington Pride team for the NPC which starts in September, but there's also spots up for grabs in the Black Ferns as well as in the New Zealand Sevens squad.
"The Black Ferns are playing a three-Test series against England in November and then there's the ongoing build-up with the Sevens heading towards the 2013 Women's Sevens World Cup in Russia and ultimately the Olympic Games."
Women's Sevens becomes an Olympic sport for the first time in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro so it's exciting times for women's rugby she said.
"Everyone's really focused at the moment and the attraction of higher honours is definitely something I encourage my team to strive for when they're playing in the Wellington club competition."
Sutorius said that there's already a healthy spread of players throughout the six Wellington club teams already in contention for representative honours for later in the year and beyond. Examples in the Norths team include prop Moana Aiatu, lock Sanita Levave (sister of Faifili) and the Collins sisters, fullback Brenda and No. 8 Helen (sisters of Jerry).
"Brenda had an outstanding game for us in the weekend, scoring six or seven tries and is definitely one of our attacking weapons. Last year she played in the Wellington Sevens team and is one of those with a chance to make the New Zealand Sevens squad."
Though officially retired from fifteens rugby, Sutorius is still keeping fit for Sevens rugby and hopes to make the New Zealand team herself.
A long-serving fifteens player, first for Otago and then for the Wellington Pride for eight seasons until 2010, openside flanker Sutorius played for the Black Ferns between 2007 -2009 and for the New Zealand Women's Sevens team in 2009, missing out on the Women's Sevens World Cup in Dubai in 2009 due to an unfortunate training injury. "I missed out on going to the last Sevens World Cup as I smashed my head open and broke my nose at training the week before we left so that was the end of the World Cup for me."
Sutorius has taken the reins as co-coach of Norths in 2012, alongside Matt Poutoa, the pair taking over from Mark Connolly who is now coaching the Norths Colts team.
"Coaching has been something that I have been thinking about since I stopped played fifteens. Last year some of the girls mentioned that they wouldn't mind someone to come along and help them out.
"This year they needed someone so I decided that I might as well jump into that role and so far I have really enjoyed it.
"My first NPC coach down in Otago was former Black Fern Helen Littlewood and she was the one person that taught me everything and built me up into the player that I am. She took the time to look at everyone's game, providing individual feedback."
"When males are coaching as they probably think that girls know everything, where as girls will just soak up information and try to better themselves all the time, so that is a role that I want to take with my coaching."
Sutorius is looking forward to an exciting second round Premier Women's club competition.
"Some of the results have already been unexpected and you can't really pick a score or who is going to win so that's a reflection of the overall strength and competiveness of the competition.
"One example of this is Ories, who are on the bottom and have yet to win a game, but they gave defending second round champions Eketahuna a really good run a couple of weeks ago [losing 35-45]
"There are unique strengths in all the teams and all six seem to be finding new ways to capitalise on these and expose weaknesses in the opposition."
In first round Victoria Tavern Trophy games this week, Norths host OBU at Porirua Park, Wainuiomata entertain Ories at Mary Crowther Park and defending second round champions Eketahuna travel to Delany Park to play Stokes Valley. All matches kick-off at 11.30am.
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