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Merewether High's rugby girls clash with Canada

March 26, 2019

​By Helen Gregory, Newcastle Herald, Australia 


Zekeya Baguinon, Ruby Browne and Savannah Bauder. It was snowing in Canada during training for the tour. Pictures: Simone De Peak

SAVANNAH Bauder likes being told she plays like a girl.

"I say 'If you throw a little harder and hit a little harder maybe you could too'," Savannah, 17, said.

"I want people to think 'Damn, I want to play like a girl too'."

Savannah is the fly half and kicker on Carson Graham Secondary School's girls rugby team, which travelled from North Vancouver to take on Merewether High's open age girls' team on Monday.

The visitors won 33 to 20.

Carson Graham coach Rick Pimlott said the Canadians toured Australia and New Zealand every two years, which brought them closer together as a team, exposed them to different cultures and gave them friends for life. 

"It's not about winning or losing," Mr Pimlott said. 

"It's always fun to win, but we make it quite clear that all we're looking for is the experience and to improve. We want to see smiles after the game whether we win or lose."

Merewether High's team captain and halfback, year 10 student Ruby Browne said it was a "really tough game". 

"They're a very tough side - our girls have not played a lot but we got a lot better towards the end."

Ruby, 15, started playing league and union last year, when she joined a sevens competition. 

She plays for the Hamilton Hawks and representative side the Hunter Wildfires and said she would like to play for the Australian Women's Sevens. 

"It teaches you skills that are good for girls, to get in and have a go and get out of your comfort zone.

"When I'm on the field I feel strong, that I can do it, that the whole team is with you. 

"It's empowering for women, it shows we can do it as much as the men can."

Savannah and fellow team captain Zekeya Baguinon were prepared to join their school's boys' grid iron team before they were introduced to rugby, Savannah through her older sister - "I liked the aggression" - and Zekeya after her teacher saw her playing European handball. 

"I didn't know what rugby was," Zekeya said. 

"Now I feel excited because I'm playing next to really amazing girls - I'm playing for my coaches and the girl next to me."

The Canadians landed in New Zealand on March 15, the day of the Christchurch shooting. 

They observed a minute's silence before each of their games in Tauranga, Taupo and Feilding, where they also lay flowers at a memorial. 

Mr Pimlott said they wanted to "show our support to the New Zealand people".

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