How Hautapu’s netballers helped pioneer women’s rugby in Cambridge

posted in: Netball, News, Rugby

It all started as a challenge between the Leamington women’s hockey team and Hautapu’s women’s netballers …

Who would win if they put aside hockey sticks and netball bibs for a game of rugby?

These days, few would think twice at the thought of women enjoying a rugby match.

But this was 1983, and Cambridge’s hockey players and netballers became the centre of attention, at least for Sunday afternoon in September.

The challenge between Hautapu — who gave themselves the name Hautapu Hotshots — and Leamington became the main game at Memorial Park, stirring interest on both sides of Cambridge’s high bridge.

Training for the match was intense — too intense, perhaps.

Hautapu’s Susanne Noble was left on crutches, injuring an ankle in training.

Newspaper reports say Hautapu coach Merve Mead put the tackle bags to good use, as players took the challenge seriously.

As it turned out, Leamington were the winners, 12-4.

The Cambridge Independent reported:

“On the day, it was Leamington who pulled away to win, using their weight advantage in the scrums to good effect, gaining much of the possession and using it wisely.

“There were some good backline moves from both teams, but it was Leamington’s forwards who were to score the three tries, none of which were converted.”


Game played on Sunday September 18, 1983

Hautapu Hotshots 4
Leamington 12

Hautapu Hotshots

Hautapu: Back row (from left): Kevin Bourke (manager), Lorna Ferguson, Lisa Hemapo, Elaine Robinson, Andrea Crampton, Wendy Harrison, Merve Mead (coach), Susanne Noble. Front row: Linda Gibbs, Diane Strachan, Kaye Dauphin, Lee, Sheree Dauphin, Kolleen Pauline Butcher, Julie Holtham, Debbie Whytock, Stephen Butcher (mascot), Joanne Bromby and Denise Watson. Photo: Cambridge Independent.

Leamington Hockey

Leamington: Back row (from left): David Graham (coach), Denise Turvey, Follas, Lynn Smith and Maureen Clifft. de Malmonche, Susan Harris, Megan Hitchcock, Alison Donaldson, Desmae Wood, Sue Adlington, Joe. Front row: Claire Caroline Jenken, Dianne Beaver, Helen Hewson, Sharon Boyd, Julie Silva, Linda Graham, Tom Rozema, Trev Iremonger; Denise Falconer, Jude Benge. Photo: Cambridge Independent.

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Club Day — a chance to get together

Hautapu Sports Club will hold its annual Club Day on Saturday May 13, 2023, helping to reunite past members and supporters — including any of the Hautapu Hotshots!

Please help spread the word, as Club Day provides an ideal opportunity to renew friendships, talk about past glories and to have fun together.

This year, all three Hautapu senior rugby sides will play at home, providing the maximum rugby entertainment for our annual Club Day.

This year, the club will support Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ and Reel Recovery NZ, raising awareness and money to help both charities continue their much-needed work.

Auction items will include specially-designed jerseys, provided by our apparel partner Dynasty NZ, to be worn in the Waikato Premier Rugby match against Marist.

Straight after the final whistle, the shirts will be cleaned, dried and delivered to the clubrooms for supporters to bid on.

READ MORE: Hautapu’s Club Day to raise awareness and funds for charities close to our hearts >>>>

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