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8 Jul 2016
Three current or former Black Ferns joined the first draft to Kelston Girls College Rugby Academy, their family and friends to launch the academy in style.
Linda and Aldora Itunu and Monalisa Urquhart (nee Codling), who are all former Kelston Girls College students, returned to college to lend support to the first secondary school girls’ rugby academy in Auckland.
Monalisa, who played for the Black Ferns from 1998 – 2010, donated a playing shirt from her collection to the academy, hoping it would inspire the girls to greater heights.
Sam Baker, Kelston Girls College sports coordinator is also director of the academy, is having the shirt framed so it can be permanently displayed.
Mr Baker says for the first time in more than five years the college has a 1st XV. It also has a 10-a-side development team and a Sevens team.
Most girls involved in the teams are Y9-11, meaning they’ll contribute significantly to the development of rugby at Kelston Girls College over the next few years.
Mr Baker says women’s rugby is on the cusp of having professional leagues in Japan and the United Kingdom. For New Zealand women focused on it there is a growing career opportunity.
But the girls at Kelston will have to work as hard academically as they do on the rugby field. From 2017 they will be able to apply for NCEA credits covering the health and science and leadership skills they will study as part of the academy.
The launch of the academy attracted interest from Sky TV Sport and from the Western Leader.