Touch of paradise lures Marlborough team

An idea first mooted in March becomes reality for a group of Marlborough women this week when they board a plane for Fiji.

Thirteen of the province’s leading female touch exponents will take part in the Pacific Touch Festival, comprising the Kava Cup for women and The Fijian Cup competition for men.

Earlier in the year Blenheim players Lucy Smith and Anna Archie saw the tournament advertised on Facebook and felt there could be some interest locally. “We rounded up some girls keen to give it a go,” said Archie, “we basically just got the ball rolling and the others [in the team] have taken it on.”

Archie will manage the Marlborough team to the Denarau-based event, billed as “the most incredible touch tournament in paradise”.

“It was a good excuse to have a few days in the sun and get some good touch competition at the same time,” said Archie.

The Kava Cup begins on November 2 and runs until November 5, with teams promised at least three games each day.

With Marlborough Touch deciding to concentrate on teams from this province alone this season, rather than combining as Tasman sides, the tournament offers an early chance to get some quality game time before the start of a busy programme for all Marlborough touch teams. They will contest the 16, 18 and open nationals this year under the provincial banner.

Archie said the women’s side had been working hard leading up to the trip and, under coach Todd Nicholas’s tutelage, had “come a long way in training”.

They will be up against combinations from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the South Pacific over the course of the tournament.

The Marlborough team consists of: Katie Bradley, Cara Wiapo, Lucy Smith, Laura Murphy, Jenna Gilbert, Emma Paaka, Hana Wilson, Pippa Andrews, Jessie Peat, Daina Crosbie, Emma Moore, Rosie Buchanan Brown, Tash Ford. Coach: Todd Nicholas. Manager: Anna Archie. Tour manager: Toni Robinson.