Leg 2: New Zealand
0213 est USW in Whangarei paper-900w.jpg
USA Women's National
Sevens Team in Whangarei newspaper
R: Liz Reed, Jess Hammond, Pam Kosanke, Dana Creager,
Ashley Farmer, Katrinka Blunt, Northland Rugby CEO Tim
Hamilton, Lindsay Davison, Lyn Wissmiller, Joanne Ward,
Jen Sinkler, Laura McDonald
--- ... anything on Cafe Caffeine? (or
was this in 2001 or 2 pics?)
last night: http://www.thefarm.co.nz/
We arrived in Auckland in
the middle of America’s Cup fever and spent an hour or so
overlooking the harbor area before heading to Whangarei.
0210 est Auckland Am Cup-600h
Cup Area in Auckland Harbor
Everywhere in New Zealand is
a rugby mecca, and this small city 2 ½ hours north of
Auckland [Whangarei, pronounced "Fong´-uh-ray"]
has been home to many renowned rugby players, most notably
the famous Going clan (the most
famous being Sid Going, 1970s All-Black).
This is the 4th consecutive year the Whangarei Sevens has
featured international women’s rugby, and the players were
celebrities during their week in town. This was
especially noted in trips to local schools where they spent
lots of time playing [rough] touch rugby with school
children, and signing autographs.
The Louis Vuitton Cup is awarded to the winning
challenger in the Cup; not sure if this was a
On the left above the boat there is a sign that says "Team
New Zealand 0 / Alinghi Swiss Challenge 0"
The race began on the following Saturday
As well as double practices and school visits, the week
included a guest appearances at local radio stations as well
as our second year of horseback riding at Waipu, organized
by our host and friend (and tournament organizer) Martin
of 2014: I'm not completely sure of the chronology of the
week, don't know when we did the horseback riding, sheep
shearing, all prior to Waitangi? Also, what did we do on
last day (Monday the 17th)? When did we go to schools?
featured a visit to the Maori community of Waitangi, the
birthplace of New Zealand, where European and Maori signed
the famous treaty that bears the town’s name. Our
visit included a competitive game of touch rugby against the
Waitangi men’s team. We were welcomed, and spent the
evening at, the Te Tii Marae, where our sleeping place was a
large room with 13 mattresses spread on the floor.
En route to Waitangi we spent some time exploring the
somewhat famous toilets of Kawakawa, awarded the
prestigious "Golden Plunger" award in a world-wide search
for the best public toilets as voted by the traveling
public. Designed by architect Frederick Hundertwasser, the
construction of the toilets predated our visit by less
than 5 years.
est Kawakawa Lindsay-900w.jpg
at the entrance to the famous Kawakawa toilets
Interior bottles Kawakawa-600w.jpg
windows at Kawakawa toilets. Left: exterior view /
Right: interior view
Kawakawa toilets: interior
hallway & toilet
14-15 February 2003. The first day of the
Whangarei Sevens is when the club and international sides
mix, and although the games are meant to be easy ones for
the top sides, they have been struggles in the past.
Waitaingi pictures - sleeping quarters / sunset / Osito /
shearing sheep / riding horses / keep adding activities /
Not so this year, as the Eagles 7s team waltzed through its
3 Friday games with a 48-7 victory over Hora Hora, a 33-0
victory over Glenfield (Auckland) in an injury-shortened
match, and a 41-0 victory over Ohaeawai.
The second day began with an excellent Eagle performance
against the Aotearoa (New Zealand) Maori. In fact a
last-second conversion attempt could have won the game. Instead we got a 12-12 draw.
A funny thing happened on the way to the final, however, as
we were upset by Aotearoa Maori “B,” 12-5. Both games
could have gone either way, but in the end the Eagles had to
settle, disappointingly, for 3rd place with double victories
over North Harbour (19-0 and 19-7).
The Kiwi sides were loaded with Black Ferns and we were not
discouraged by these results. The “B” side, in fact,
featured a couple of superstars: Cheryl Waaka, Black Fern #8
and one of the 3 finalists for world “player of the year,
” and Vanessa Cootes, who scored 5 tries vs the US in
the 1998 World Cup [World Cup 15s
that is - this was clear in 2003, when there had been no
7s World Cups, but may not be in 2014!-:)] final.
The Eagles finished with a 5-1-1 record and a points
for-against margin of 177-38. This compared with last
year’s 4-2-1 and 71-63 margin.
The combined result for the US tour of Fiji and New Zealand
was 8-2-1 including the draw with the current Hong Kong
champions and a victory over the Fiji national team.
Summary, USA Women at Whangarei Sevens, NZL
Because we had “gotten a
deal” on Air Pacific, we couldn’t return home until
Tuesday. This meant finding something to do following
the tournament. Not to worry, our liaison, Kiwi Jason
Payne, and his wife Vicky, an Iowan, hooked us up with Mike
Bennett, a friend with a private sailboat and a farm.
We drove up to Opua, took the car ferry to Russell, then
hopped on Mike’s private sailboat to Roberton Island (also known as Motuarohia) in the
Bay of Islands.
As we arrived at the island, a larger boat full of men on a
stag party weekend arrived, and we anchored with them, and
sampled sacks of mussels they had gathered as well as
watching the start of Race 2 of the America’s Cup challenge
on their TV. Note of 2014:
Another highlight of the trip was Dana climbing up the
mast and jumping into the water of the Bay of Islands from
a remarkably high perch!
0216 est Boat of men that joined us-900w.jpg
note: Reviewing the 2003 America's Cup, Wikipedia notes
that this 2nd match was "one of
the closest, most exciting races seen for years, with
the lead changing hands several times and a duel of 33
tacking manoeuvres on the fifth leg," not that we were
aware of any of that. Although the
boat from landlocked Switzerland eventually shut out NZ 5
races to none, it was skippered by Russell Coutts, a
multiple America's Cup winner - and a Kiwi.
0216 est Dana about to jump-900w.jpg
Stag party boat that anchored with us - note height of
Right: Dana about to jump
For some of us there was a half-mile swim to shore (others
traveled there on a small motor boat). A walk up to
the top of Roberton Island revealed a truly spectacular
0216 Reaching Red
Emilito reaches the top of Roberton's Island and is
Right: the view
from the top (I guess it wasn't really that hard to
From the boat, we headed to Mike and Ellen’s farm where we
dined on sheep on a spit, and enjoyed a view of the southern
sky from the top of a hill on their farm. (See www.thefarm.co.nz.)
Just as the two-week tour began with the idyllic stay at the
Fiji Beach House, it ended with a similarly idyllic day in
the Bay of Islands. In between there was a lot of hard
work and much success.
Leg 3: Hong Kong
From beginning to end, Hong Kong was more problematic, and
ultimately less successful, than either Fiji or New
Zealand. Even before we began the journey, Meredith Whalen
tore her Achilles tendon at a team camp in Pennsylvania.
Then at a scrimmage against Berkeley, Katrinka Blunt dislocated
her shoulder (although it popped back in and she was able to
play – albeit in pain), and Val Griffeth tore her ACL.
(Ironically it was not diagnosed as an ACL tear until after the
tournament and she actually got a few minutes play in and scored
a try. [2014 note: But the first time
she tried to cut she collapsed in a heap and was done.]
On top of these and other injuries (Jen Sinkler and Ashley
Farmer were still recovering from patellar tendonitis, and in
Hong Kong Joanne Ward was to turn her head quickly in a
discussion and find her neck suddenly stiffen [this was an
especially hard-working tour for Doc Sue!]), there was SARS and
there was war in Iraq. We were scheduled to leave on
Friday March 22, and doubts about the trip were surfacing
everywhere. France, Italy and Argentina dropped out of the
(men’s) Hong Kong Sevens, and Japan out of the women’s
tournament. New Zealand said they weren’t sure they were
going. The IRB and the Hong Kong tournament began putting
out daily reports as to the tournament’s status. Al
Caravelli stayed in touch with the tournament, the State
Department, and made nightly calls at 11:30 PM to speak to the
US Consul in Hong Kong. We followed the daily updates of
the World Health Organization, and, still uncertain, decided to
alter our travel plans: we would meet in San Francisco for two
days and defer our final decision till Monday morning.
2014: ADD COMMENTS RE SARS & IRAQ
(with a view from the future)
Following the scrimmage with Berkeley (a great experience except
for the injuries), and a long players-only meeting to discuss
the pros and cons of the trip, a consensus decision was reached:
we would go. Both SARS and Iraq were issues. The war
had begun two days before we gathered and security against
terrorism as well as disease was high on everyone’s mind.
Virtually simultaneously the IRB announced that the tournament
With all the banged up people with whom we were leaving the US,
it was great to have that rare commodity -- an 11th player as an
alternate. Then -- just hours before we got on our plane
to Hong Kong, Air Force Lt. Laura McDonald was informed she was
being deployed - to parts undisclosable.
Monday, as we left, WHO (World Health Organization)’s web site
was being updated to read “WHO continues to recommend, on the
basis of currently available data, no travel restrictions to any
We arrived on Tuesday night March 25, and the tournament began
Thursday March 27. Our preparation was limited to a brief
run-through Wednesday morning.
Thursday, we started out like a house on fire, defeating Fiji
40-0 in a game in which we did everything right. This
followed up with a 3-minute spell against New Zealand in which
lived at their goal line and barely failed on two forays to the
line (once we were across it). Things were looking
good. From that moment on, however, it was not our
tournament, and the season that had began so promisingly ended
up in disappointment. We lost to New Zealand 22-0, and
then, in an extremely physical game against England, we dropped
a last-minute 5-0 decision.
Friday we easily polished off Hong Kong before facing New
Zealand in a semifinal match which would determine who would
face England in the stadium. It wasn’t embarrassing, but
it was a loss nonetheless, 17-7. Then in a 3rd place game
we didn’t really want to play, we allowed Kazakhstan two
first-minute tries before gaining a little control, but
ultimately failed in a 14-7 loss.
We stayed two more days, and enjoyed the men’s tournament, which
featured a Bowl Championship by the US, and in the Cup round a
fabulous final and two exceptional semifinals. Despite the
great games and atmosphere, it was obvious that day by day a
greater percentage of people were wearing masks, and when we
boarded our plane Monday morning all the flight attendants were
masked as well. The number of SARS cases per day was
increasing and as we left on March 31, the Amoy Garden outbreak,
with more than 100 cases, was being announced. On April 2,
the WHO issued a travel advisory for Hong Kong and Guandong.
Back home, fear reigned supreme: I was told not to report
to work for 10 days, and I wasn’t the only one. One member
of our tour party was given the same instructions and went to
Las Vegas for a week.
Despite our disappointments, our team chemistry was great, and
the young team showed a lot of promise and moments of brilliance
that will pay off for the US – both in 7s and 15s – in the
future. Kudos to Erina Queen for being a great captain and
to Lisa Rowe for also leading with her fabulous on-field play.
All deserve to be proud of themselves for being able to keep
their focus in very difficult circumstances.
Thanks finally to our nonplayers, Al Caravelli, Chris Ryan and
the ever-busy Sue Bercuk, for efforts and accomplishments above
and beyond the call of duty.
Scoring summary, Hong Kong
Tries Conv Points
Pam Kosanke 2
Lisa Rowe 5
2 0 10
Val Griffeth 1
Erina Queen 1
Jen Sinkler 1
12 8 76
10 4 58
Final 2003 record: Won 10 Lost 6 Tied
1. PF 328, PA 103.
C:\user\live\ry\2003\Article - US Women 2003 Tours.doc