The Taranaki women’s rugby team have launched their representative season and they have their eyes on the Farah Palmer Cup.
This week more than 50 people gathered to celebrate the Port Taranaki Whio’s second season back in the Farah Palmer Cup national provincial championship, following a four-year hiatus.
Taranaki Rugby chief executive Jeremy Parkinson said women’s rugby continued to improve.
“The standard of women’s rugby has picked up this year. We’re running a really progressive women’s programme that is very inclusive, with the players operating in gym cycles with the Mitre 10 Cup men’s team and gauging themselves against those players,” Parkinson said.
“We’re the only province in New Zealand doing that.
“We want to commend the players for their dedication and wish the Port Taranaki Whio all the very best this season.”
Parkinson also acknowledged naming right’s partner Port Taranaki for their continued support of Taranaki Rugby and the Whio.
He said their support was greatly appreciated and was part of the reason women’s rugby was doing so well.
Port Taranaki Whio co-captain Jalana Smith said the team was looking forward to its second season back in the competition.
“We really appreciate the support from Port Taranaki. Every single player in the team is proud to represent Taranaki and Port Taranaki,” she said.
Port Taranaki is the naming rights sponsor of the Port Taranaki Whio, the Taranaki women’s sevens team, and the secondary school girls’ competition.
Speaking at the launch, Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said he was proud the company was able to support women’s rugby, which is growing and developing year-on-year.
“I commend Taranaki Rugby for supporting and promoting women’s rugby from girls’ and secondary schools’ rugby, to club and representative level,” he said.
“And it’s great to hear that the standard of women’s rugby in Taranaki is improving, which is encouraging for the future of the game.
“We wish the team all the best and look forward to supporting you, and watching you wear the jersey with pride.”
Following a pre-season tournament and a match against Waikato development, the Port Taranaki Whio kick off their Farah Palmer Cup campaign against Otago, in Dunedin, on September 8.
The team’s first home game is against Tasman at Yarrow Stadium on Saturday, September 14. The Whio also play Northland at home, at the TET Stadium in Inglewood, on Saturday, September 28.
Their other regular season matches are away to Hawke’s Bay (September 20) and North Harbour (October 4).