The Bay of Plenty Roller Derby team have won the inaugural Regional Rumble tournament.
Some of the biggest names in New Zealand roller derby came together at the weekend to battle it out for the top spot.
The tournament was live-streamed to Twitch by Roller Derby Streaming NZ with hundreds of players, officials, and fans from all over the world logging in to watch.
Many were envious of the New Zealand derby community as other countries are currently unable to train or play due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Because of this, the tournament is now the biggest roller derby event in the world in 2020.
The Roller Derby Association of New Zealand’s Regional Rumble saw seven regions along with the country’s indigenous representatives, Mana Tangata o Aotearoa, play a two-day tournament at the AC Baths in Taupo.
The Bay of Plenty team included members from the Sulphur City Steam Rollers (Rotorua), Moana Roller Derby (Tauranga), Whakatane Roller Derby League, and also Hellmilton Roller Ghouls (Hamilton).
While the Bay’s team members had played together in different configurations in the past, the full team hadn’t trained together leading up to the tournament.
But Captain, Zara Matthews (Cankle Biter) from SCSR, says the teams have similar strategies which were executed with precision when it counted.
“We ran two packs for the tournament, with each member bringing their own unique strengths to their respective pack,” says Zara.
“The packs were also interchangeable if needed and our jammers, who are the point scorers, worked well with each pack. It was like we’d played as a solid team for years.”
The Bay of Plenty first faced off against Northern, a team made up of skaters from Northland, Auckland, and Hamilton, and took the win 221 to 139.
“To be honest, we were apprehensive about the first game and didn’t think we’d pull off a win,” Zara admits.
“There are some real superstars on their team, but at the same time, we had superstars of our own which we fully realise now.”
One of those stars is Ivy Bates (Ivy K’nivey), originally from Rotorua. Ivy was a member of one of the world’s top leagues, Melbourne’s Victorian Roller Derby League for many years, taking home the coveted “Hydra”, the Woman’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association’s Championship trophy. She has now returned to New Zealand and skates with Whakatane.
Even though Ivy has played at the highest level in the world, she was exhilarated to win the Regional Rumble.
“Our team were positive and adaptive and put our heart and soul into each game we played, I’m really proud of our achievement.”
Bay of Plenty’s second match-up was on Sunday morning against Southern 2 which featured skaters from Dunedin, Timaru, and Queenstown.
The BOP team had watched Southern 2 play the day before so went into the game with strategies to limit the number of points Southern could score on them which paid off.
Their convincing 294 to 128 win then sent them to the finals where they would face off against the Wellington Region.
“While we were confident that our team would put up a good fight, we knew that the majority of the Wellington regional team came from the same league and train together regularly,” says the BOP captain.
“But we had now ironed out the creases within our team, readjusted our packs, and went in confident that we would fight hard to the finish.”
After an exhausting first half with Wellington leading, the BOP’s players and experienced bench crew identified a few weaknesses and plotted strategies to increase their point potential.
From the first whistle in the second half, the Bay of Plenty led the charge, scoring a massive 130 to 39 points in that half alone, and came out on top with a final score of 190 to 111.
The Bay of Plenty team now returns to their respective leagues to finish off the 2020 season and look forward to the next regional tournament.
Final results: 1st Bay of Plenty, 2nd Wellington, 3rd Southern 1
-Story written and supplied by Layla Robinson
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