Matatu bringing Super Rugby action to city

Rosie Kelly, of Matatū charges forward during the round one Super Rugby Aupiki match between...
Rosie Kelly, of Matatū charges forward during the round one Super Rugby Aupiki match between Matatū and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, last year. PHOTO: JOE ALLISON/GETTY IMAGES
The Highlanders may not be coming south this year but Invercargill will still get a dose of Super Rugby.

The city is going to host a Super Rugby champion side next week when the Matatū comes to town.

The Matatū, the women’s side which represents the whole of the South Island, is heading south to take on the Blues women’s team on March 2.

It will be the only time the Matatū are playing south of the Waitaki River this year and it hopefully will be a good chance to show the style which led the side to win the title last year.

The match will kick off at 4.35pm at Rugby Park.

Southland Rugby is hoping for a big crowd and a game consisting of local players will take place before the main game kicks off.

The Matatū team are looking forward to the match and will be hoping to start the season on a winning note.

"It’s such an exciting opportunity to take a game to Invercargill as part of our season this year," Matatū general manager Sarah Munro said.

"It’s so important to all of us at Matatū that we have the chance to play in front of all our South Island fans and we can’t wait to face the Blues in front of a passionate Southland crowd at Rugby Park."

The Matatū have plenty of experience in their side but it will be a new coaching team which will steer the team off the paddock.

Aussie McLean and Peter Breen will help new head coach Whitney Hansen coaching the side. They take over from Blair Baxter, Tony Christie and Dan Cron.

Matatū are seeking to defend their 2023 title and build off the performance and culture developed within the team since Aupiki’s inaugural season in 2022.

The team won the final against the Chiefs side in what was a very tight encounter. It has the bulk of its side back for this year in what is an expanded competition. The competition this year will be played on a full home and away basis so there will be six games played by the four sides with the final set for April.

It will be a happy trip south for three players who are coming back home.

Centre Amy du Plessis, prop Amy Rule and young lock Emma Dermody all hailed from Southland before heading north to Canterbury to improve their game.

Dermody, who was named Matatū Rookie of the Year in 2023, said she was "ecstatic about Matatū’s upcoming game in Invercargill".

"Returning to my home province holds special significance as it provides a unique opportunity to showcase to young girls the pathways available to them," Dermody said.

The game has been staged with the help of the ILT, Community Trust South (CTS) and Rugby Southland.