The Pasifika Aotearoa Cup 7s Festival was back again for the 7th year running yesterday at Bruce Pullman Park in Papakura.
The festival started out as as a tournament for Pasifika and Maori female players and in it's first year had 4 teams participating. It is now open to everyone and has grown to be one of the biggest if not THE biggest womens rugby 7s tournaments in the world with just over 50 teams participating in this years one day tournament.
"There's been a huge increase in the numbers & interest" says former Black Ferns and Women’s Rugby Development Manager at New Zealand Rugby, Vania Wolfgramm.
Vania is also credited with successfully developing the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup and bringing more women into sport.
When the tournament first started it only had an Open Womens Grade but it has now grown to include an Under 11s ripper grade, Under 13s, Under15s, Under 18s and the Open Womens. The Open Womens also now includes a 'Tight Five' section which is for 'Props, Hookers & Locks' and Vania says it is probably the most skilful, entertaining rugby that you'll find anywhere.
The Wellington Barbarians won the Tight Five grade and have been participating in the tournament for the last 5 years.
"They really put on quality rugby and it's great to see them here especially this year" says Vania
"Apart from the Wellington Barbarians who travelled the furthest, we also had teams come through from Rotorua, Hamilton, Keri keri, Rotoiti and Taupiri. We haven't had anyone from the South Island yet but it's always been in the pipeline to take the tournament across the country." she added.
The tournament had been up in the air due to Covid so it was exciting for Vania and her team to have it finally be able to go ahead.
She said another highlight of the event for her was being able to include the younger girls and this year they were also able to run an event on Friday night celebrating wahine in rugby and especially in the non-playing roles which are often volunteer roles - coaching, administration, refereeing, manager roles.
"We really need to have more females in that space to accommodate the spike or increase in player numbers" she said.
This year former Black Fern Marina Canterbury led the tournament for the first time and during the powhiri she responded on behalf of the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup staff doing the Karanga for the first time.
"In this tournament the values were underpinned by our cultural values and this was one of the points I really loved about this tournament" added Vania.
Other results from the day -
Open Womens Grade winners - Ponsonby Rugby Club
U15s winners - One Tree Hill School
U18s winners - Howick College
For more information on the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup and to register a team for next years tournament - keep an eye on NZ Rugby news page here