For the first time in its history, a female has been named captain of the Nelson Bays U48kg rugby team.
Lucy Mahuika will lead the side in Christchurch during an U48kg rugby tournament this week.
BY JONTY DINE [Nelson App]
The 12-year-old hooker wants to be a leader for young girls everywhere and hopes to see the rise of female rugby continue until the All Blacks and Black Ferns are considered equal.
Lucy says she was shocked to learn that she had been selected let alone would be captaining the side.
"I didn’t believe it at first, I thought they were joking.”
She says she was initially worried wouldn’t even make the 48kg weight.
"Now I’m too light so my mum is stuffing me, so I can get buff for the tournament.”
Also captain of her Nelson club side, Lucy says her philosophy is to be an encouraging leader.
"If someone makes a mistake I will let them know its ok, learn from it. I want to be the best I can be and help everyone improve their games too.”
She says she has another key attribute that makes her a good captain.
"I have a big mouth.”
Lucy is not the only female in the side, joined by Wanderers 12th grade captain Sarah Jones.
The girls say there is no "sexist stuff.”
"We get treated the same way, it’s good that we are in a team that know our ability.”
However, Lucy says this has not always been the case.
"Some boys say, ‘you’re a girl and you’re weak’, stuff like that.
Lucy also made the decision to cut her hair after the boys would constantly pull on it.
"They started to pull chunks out, so I just got it cut shorter, it had made me faster too.”
She says constant teasing almost led to her walking away from the game she loves.
"The boys would tease me when I was younger, I felt like I couldn’t do it.”
However, her mother convinced her to stick with it, knowing her daughter had the ability to match it with the boys.
Lucy with teammate Sarah Jones. Photo: Jonty Dine.
"I got more confident in myself and I proved them wrong.”
Both Sarah and Lucy grew up getting ‘smashed’ by their brothers so learnt how to handle a hit.
Lucy says she has recently become a big fan of women’s rugby.
"I really started to get into it a few years ago when learnt how badly treated they were.”
She was discouraged by the number of empty seats at Black Ferns fixtures.
"You look at the All Blacks and the Black Ferns games and when you see the stands, there is just such a big difference.”
While she acknowledged progress is being made, there is much more work to be done to grow the women’s game to the level of the men's.
"At least they get paid now but I want to see equal crowds, equal pay and equal respect, they are just as good, they have won the World Cup five times and the boys have only won three.”
Both Sarah and Lucy say they are grateful not to be the only female in the side.
"It’s good to have another girl in the team because they get you,” says Lucy.
"We get along really well and have each other’s backs,” Sarah says.
Sarah says they do have some advantages over their male counterparts.
"Running low, we can get lower than the boys.”
Both Lucy and Sarah dream of becoming Black Ferns one day.
They say they idolize the likes of Black fern Fi Fa'amausili, Selica Winiata and Portia Woodman, "she’s a beast.”
Lucy also cites diminutive halfback Kendra Cocksidge as an inspiration.
"It really shows you that size doesn’t matter, the boys are usually always bigger than us but that doesn’t stop us from showing them what we can do.”
The Nelson Bays side opened its season with a comfortable 47-12 win over Blenheim in preparation for the South Island U48kg competition.
The side will meet Canterbury, Southland, Otago and Canterbury country over the three-day tournament.
Photo: Jonty Dine