Bringing strength to women’s rugby game

The team behind Hampstead’s announcement of a new women’s rugby team next season (from left): Shaun Bovey, Tracey Henderson, Jason Tennant and Vaughan Ward.
Photo Matt Markham

The women’s rugby scene in Mid Canterbury is set to take a further step forward next year with the Hampstead Rugby Club announcing this week that they intend to field a women’s side in next year’s competition.

It’s a bold and somewhat brazen move, but one the club are extremely excited about and while still very much in its infancy, there’s plenty of ground work gone in behind the scenes to even get to this point.

“We’ve done a lot of thinking and planning,” club president, Tracey Henderson said.

“One of the key things was ensuring that we had the right people on board to drive it and make it work and I think we’ve got those people on board, so it’s very exciting.”

The decision to even entertain the idea of trying to build a women’s team was, in some parts borne from this past season’s senior coach, Shaun Bovey and his passion for the women’s game.

He announced his intention to step down as head coach of the senior team late this season and up until the announcement this week his next steps were unknown.

“I’m excited, there’s no hiding the fact that my passion lies with the women’s game and to be able to still be a part of the Hampstead club is something I’m really happy about,” he said.

But one coach doesn’t a rugby team make and Bovey has managed to bring in a couple of other well-known names to help him drive the ship.

Vaughan Ward will join Bovey as a co-coach while Jason Tennant is set to be the side’s manager.

Mid Canterbury had its first women’s side field a team this year when Celtic entered the fray and while drawing from a potentially small pool of players, the Hampstead Club are confident that there will be no stepping on toes when it comes to filling the rosters.

“We feel we’ve had significant enough interest from people who aren’t yet playing or haven’t played but are keen to,” Henderson said.

“The last thing we want to do is set out and end up pushing another team to the point where they can’t field a team, we wouldn’t be doing it if we felt that might be the case.

“But we’ve had good feedback and had plenty of people saying that they’d be keen to be involved so that was enough to get the conversation going and it’s snowballed from there.”

The club intends to hold an information evening on Friday, August 30 at the Hampstead Rugby Club at 6pm and is issuing the invite to anyone and everyone who might be keen on seeing what it’s all about to come along and hear what has to be said.

Bovey’s intentions are to have a get-together before Christmas to do some assessment work on where everyone who is keen to play is at and then give them some work-ons over the Christmas break before reconvening in the new year.

“We’re looking at holding a bit of a training camp in February and bringing a few people in to help us out along the way, it’s all coming together.

“And then the plan is to hopefully head down to the Queenstown tournament before we kick into the season.”

As the growth of the women’s game around New Zealand continues to increase, the timing seems perfect for Hampstead to come on board and Bovey is setting himself the challenge of ensuring they have a full roster from the outset.

“We want 34 names on the board and then we can go from there, there’s no point in doing it and then battling from week-to-week to try and field a team.

“I’m confident we can get there and we’ll be providing all the help we can to anyone who is interested in playing to hopefully get them involved.”

Anyone interested in being a part of the team is asked to contact Jason Tennant on 021 300 013 or at

– Matt Markham