Vietnamese schoolgirl flying flag for rugby

Otago Girls' High School rugby players (from left) Petra McNutt Milne, Toyah McFarlane, Oceana...
Otago Girls' High School rugby players (from left) Petra McNutt Milne, Toyah McFarlane, Oceana Campbell, Storm Maole, Chris Huynh, Gemma Millar, Xanthe Maole, Sydnee O'Leary, Stella Dynes, Jessica Smith. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A Vietnamese school pupil who fell in love with rugby soon after she landed in Dunedin will be holding a flag on the field at the final All Blacks v France test on Saturday night.

Chris Huynh arrived in Dunedin from Vietnam last year to attend Otago Girls' High School, and the family she boards with wasted no time introducing her to the national game.

"On the first day when I came to New Zealand my host family brought me to a Highlanders game.

"And I liked it so I joined up."

The 16-year-old, who is from Dong Nai province in Vietnam's south, near Ho Chi Minh City, has been in town for about a year.

She played in the sevens tournament with Otago Girls', and would soon turn out in the school's under-15 side, which would be her introduction to 15-a-side competition.

The year 11 pupil said rugby had helped her make friends and adjust to life in a strange new land.

"When I didn't play sport or anything I hardly made friends.

"But when I started playing rugby everyone was really nice to me and ... befriended me".

Her mother back in Vietnam was none too impressed when she learned of her daughter's new sport.

"She actually didn't want me to play but I signed up for it anyway".

But Chris said she was able to set her mind at ease by telling her about the safety measures they take to avoid concussion and other injuries.

"I explained to her how we try and play safely."

Chris, who speaks excellent English with hints of a southern accent, will be holding either New Zealand or French flags with players from Otago Girls' High School and St Hilda's Collegiate School at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night.

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