Rugby: Age shall not weary her

Anna Richards at Logan Park this week . . . "As long as I am still enjoying it, then I'll keep on...
Anna Richards at Logan Park this week . . . "As long as I am still enjoying it, then I'll keep on playing. When I don't enjoy it any more then I'll think about not playing." Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Anna Richards has won three World Cups, played for the national team for more than 15 years, and won endless national championships with Auckland.

At 44, there are no thoughts of retirement and such is her dedication to her sport, she is flying almost the length of the country every week.

Richards is a loan player for the Otago Spirit, and will turn out for the team in its must-win game against unbeaten Canterbury at the North Ground this afternoon.

"As long as I am still enjoying it, then I'll keep on playing. When I don't enjoy it any more than I'll think about not playing," she said.

"I've played in three World Cups and it would be nice to play in another one next year. It's always great every time you play for New Zealand."

Richards played club rugby in Auckland for College Rifles, getting to the club final, but was not picked by new Auckland coach Davida White.

Otago, looking for experience, came calling, and she was happy to oblige.

Richards travels to Dunedin every Thursday from Auckland, trains with the team and then plays on Saturday before returning to Auckland.

She stays with her sister, Sally Richards, when in Dunedin.

Richards works as a programme co-ordinator for Books in Homes, having been there eight years.

She said it was a great job: "It makes me feel like Santa Claus every day".

She said Otago, searching for a win after two straight losses, was improving and should have beaten Hawkes Bay last week.

"There are a lot of young girls in the team and the side has been progressing a lot. I think the problem down here is with a lot of students they move on after a couple of years.

"So the combinations aren't always developed so quickly. You look at Canterbury and had an established team."

Richards declined to comment on this week's sudden resignation of coach Jonathan Homer.

Homer quit among accusations of disagreements with players, and has been replaced by Phil Young.

Canterbury has started its season with two comfortable victories, and welcomes back Black Ferns skipper loose forward Melissa Ruscoe, who has recovered from an ankle injury.

Canterbury first five-eighth and captain Barbara Chittock will play against her twin, Rebecca, who starts at centre for Otago.


Otago v Canterbury
North Ground, today, 2pm
Otago:
Kelly Brazier, Natahlia Darling, Rebecca Chittock, Janna Vaughan, Carla Hohepa, Anna Richards, Zoey Berry, Ngamamae Rapata, Rachel Scott, Megan Kane, Lauren Roney, Carrie Lobb, Beth Mallard (captain), Rachel Ovens, Gemma Tuhega.

Reserves: Jess Tuhega, Phillipa Love, Leyhana Van Vugt, Nicky Crawford, Melissa Grant, Chloe Trubshoe, Melissa Fairburn.

Canterbury: Amira Rule, Tara Horsnell, Halie Hurring, Anika Tiplady, Kylie Nieuwenhuyzen, Barbara Chittock (captain), Kendra Cocksedge, Casey Robertson, Olivia Coady, Melissa Ruscoe, Kimberley Smith, Carla Mackie, Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox, Rebecca Black, Taryn Barrow.

Reserves: Millie Deans, Melodie Ngatai, Stacey Anderson, Amanda Murphy, Juliet Jenning, Elisha May, Olivia Bird.


 

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