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Lindwood in the Stripes

The Women’s California Kiwis RFC were formed in 1977, and after going 30-2, decided to tour New Zealand, under the aegis of Kiwi coach, Dave Merito. The tour was scheduled for August 1980 and represented the first American women’s rugby club to tour Down Under.

In those years, women hardly played rugby in New Zealand, so the people experienced a double surprise; women in full rugby kit, and also a XV from the United States.

The Californian’s first game of the two-week tour, a practice warmup match, pitted them not against another woman’s fifteen, but against the Boys U-17 squad, one of the only occasions the sexes played against each other. It was more a scrimmage than an actual game but the visitors proved adept at rugger, displaying hard, sure tackling.

The first official game was played again Ngongataha, a pick up squad consisting of many Maoris. The American romped 48-0 against these inexperienced opponents.

Next, in Wellington, the Californians met the Wainuiomate RFC women’s select side, comprising players from four local clubs. Again, the American prevailed 25-3.

The final stop was Christchurch against the experienced Linwood RFC, played at Landcaster Park (one of the four main rugby parks in New Zealand.) The visiting Americans triumphed 10-0 to finish the tour undefeated.