It took three periods of extra time before Charlotte Arthur scored the golden goal for Rangi Ruru to win the 2015 Federation Cup, beating rivals St. Margaret’s College in a game that will be remembered for years to come. Coached by the legendary John Radovonich and Canterbury Cat Rachel McCann, the win was extra special given the dominance of Rangi’s opposition over the years.
Fast forward two years, and Rangi Ruru were at it once again, beating St. Margaret’s to win the Connetics Secondary School Premier (SSP) competition, their first Canterbury title in over 15 years, and they continued that form through to Fed Cup where they finished runners up to St. Cuthbert’s College.
The 2019 side are unbeaten through their opening five matches, and the current holders of the Connetics Shield they won courtesy of the 2017 title. They are they only holder so far, having successfully defended it 14 times since its inception, going undefeated through the entire 2018 regular season. Head coach Aaron Ford, in his fourth year in charge, doesn’t see the shield as the main focus each week, “it’s always about taking pride in our performance and looking to improve each game. In saying that, it’s nice to have and we are proud of the record to date and will do our best to hold onto it”.
Ford, recently appointed the Canterbury NHL Women’s coach for the second time, is enjoying the 2019 season and the changes it brings. “We are somewhat in a rebuilding phase so we have taken the opportunity to make a few changes to how we play and bring in a few new concepts, which has also been refreshing for those who have been in the team for a couple of seasons”, says Ford, who sees the Rangi style as a ‘fast paced game of hockey that’s (hopefully) enjoyable to watch’.
Results wise, 2018 didn’t quite reach the heights of the season prior, but the team got to experience a complete change of scenery when they travelled to Europe for pre-season. “We spent three weeks with a group of girls who were passionate about hockey and keen to learn. It was a big eye opener for the girls but also helped them fall in love with the game even more and they want to get better”.
Tonight’s match against St. Margaret’s will as always be a tough one, with Rangi looking to maintain their position on top of the table. Their preparation hasn’t been the best, with last week’s match against St. Andrew’s College a non-event. “We were incredibly disappointed last week to win by default and not have a game, so our girls are rearing to go. We have a lot of respect for SMC, they have a lot of depth, quality players and the fact that they have been a bit unlucky with some of their results so far means they will be a dangerous opponent,” says Ford.
And what will his words be to the girls tonight before they take the field? “Be yourself, back yourself, and trust your mates!”
At the other end of the spectrum, tonight’s bottom of the table boy’s clash between Shirley Boys and Burnside has added interest, with the losing side dropping out of the premier competition for the second round. Both having previously lifted the national secondary schools title, there’s plenty of rich school hockey history for both schools, 2019 has been tough, with neither side yet to register a win. Burnside could claim the favourites tag on the basis of a higher goal differential, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top.
In other matches this evening, St. Bede’s College put their unbeaten record on the line against Christchurch Boys, while Christchurch Girls do the same against St. Andrew’s College. Villa Maria College play Burnside in the final match to complete the first round. Christ’s College have the bye.
Earlier this week, St. Andrew’s College and Timaru Boys played their final round match during the traditional school exchange, a late Timaru goal seeing the game finish at 2-2, with St. Andrew’s maintaining their position at the top of the table and the Connetics Shield in the trophy cabinet for another week.
5pm St. Andrew’s College vs Christchurch Girls’ HS Nga Puna Wai 1
6.30pm Villa Maria College vs Burnside HS Nga Puna Wai 1
8pm Rangi Ruru Girls’ School vs St. Margaret’s College Nga Puna Wai 1
5.10pm Burnside HS vs Shirley Boys’ HS Nga Puna Wai 2
8.10pm Christchurch Boys’ HS vs St. Bede’s College Nga Puna Wai 2