Nancy Wake gets an outing

Nancy Wake was stuffed in the back of the 4X4. Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali was frying onions on the barbecue and her team-mates, Selica Winiata and Kendra Cocksedge, were on sausages.

That is how the Black Ferns roll. They might be world champions but there is no pretension about this mob.

The trio were in Dunedin yesterday to help promote the women’s game and watch a girls’ under-15 rugby 10s tournament at Hancock Park.They brought Nancy Wake with them, of course. That is the nickname they have given to the Women’s World Cup trophy.

Wake was a leading figure in the French Resistance and the Black Ferns drew inspiration from her heroic story.

‘‘Why Nancy? Gorilla warfare was the theme behind our campaign,’’ Subritzky-Nafatali explained shortly after she dug out Nancy from the back of the team vehicle and tucked her under her left arm.

Members of the St Hilda’s Collegiate under-15 rugby team share the spoils — the Women’s World Cup trophy — with a trio of Black Ferns at Hancock Park in Dunedin  yesterday. From left are Katie Wilson (13), Selica Winiata, Anna Harcus (14), Victoria Subrit
Members of the St Hilda’s Collegiate under-15 rugby team share the spoils — the Women’s World Cup trophy — with a trio of Black Ferns at Hancock Park in Dunedin yesterday. From left are Katie Wilson (13), Selica Winiata, Anna Harcus (14), Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Libby Drummond (13), Kendra Cocksedge and Grace Beattie (14). PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

‘‘So that’s why we named her Nancy.’’

The Black Ferns effectively stole a chapter from Wake’s playbook.  They battled the odds to dispatch the professional England team 41-32 in the final last month. Since arriving home with Nancy, the team has enjoyed a warm reception.‘‘It has been awesome. Everyone is pumped to see us and we’ve just come here to support these girls because they are the future of the Black Ferns.’’

The Blacks Ferns’ success and the rise of sevens has given the women’s game a boost. And taking Nancy around the country was an opportunity to help inspire the next generation, Subritzky-Nafatali  said.

‘‘It is awesome to get women’s rugby out there. It is not so big everywhere, but it is growing really fast.’’As for soaking up the adulation, Subritzky-Nafatali was happy to pose for photos, but rates her work with the tongs.

‘‘I’m pretty good behind the barbie. I’m not all about the photos and stuff. I’m a more hands-on kind of person.’’

Subritzky-Nafatali plays for Counties-Manukau but still keeps a close eye on her old team, Otago. She is extending her stay in Dunedin so she can watch Otago play Tasman at Logan Park today.‘‘I still keep in touch with the girls and they still send me good luck messages and vice versa.’’

The Farah Palmer Cup has been split into two divisions this season and Otago is in the second tier competition. But the Spirit showed some promise last week during a 20-7 loss to Canterbury in Christchurch.

‘‘They are still talented but they are just young.‘‘It is hard down here you know because the [university] girls are here for three years before they finish their degree and then the team goes through a rebuilding phase. ‘‘That is what I went through the whole time I was living here.’’

St Hilda’s Collegiate beat Kavanagh College 46-0 in the final of the girls under-15 10s tournament. Defending champion Columba College and Otago Girls High School were beaten semifinalists.

The tournament attracted 14 teams, up from 10 last year.

 

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