SCOTT Eade is best known in Southland rugby circles for his deeds on the field, but it is off the field where he is probably having the biggest impact at the moment.
The former New Zealand under-20 representative has racked up more than 50 games in the Stags jersey, and also spent a season playing for Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Last year he played a pivotal role in leading Marist to the club’s first Galbraith Shield title in 16 years.
The first five-eighth is back playing for Marist this year, but during the day he is plotting the rise of Southland women’s rugby.
Last year Rugby Southland employed Eade as a part-time development officer for women’s rugby, the first time the organisation had put money towards such a role.
He fills the role at Rugby Southland during the winter and in the summer months he links with Touch Southland as one of its development officer.
Two years into the women’s rugby role, Eade’s influence can already be recognised as the women’s game starts to grow in Southland.
In recent years female rugby had largely been restricted to secondary schools, outside the senior women’s sevens programme.
However, Rugby Southland is now having success developing the women’s game across all different types of age groups.
This year Eade came up with a four-week senior women’s 10-a-side competition which included teams from the Blues, Marist, Woodlands and Wakatipu clubs.
He admitted the concept drew more interest than expected.
Next month a new four-week primary schoolgirls’ roadshow will be launched.
The roadshow will take place on Sundays to avoid a clash with netball, as well as staying clear of traditional Saturday morning primary school rugby which girls also play in.
The roadshows will be held on June 10, 17, 24, and July 1 and will include Rippa and tackle skills and games for girls aged 5 to 13.
The hope was a girls’-only focus would create an environment where more primary school players would choose to give the sport a go, Eade said.
With Eade having an almost blank canvas to start with in terms of women’s rugby in Southland, he said he did not have to battle with the entrenched traditional formats which were attached to male rugby competitions.
“It is harder to get people to commit to, say, your traditional 15-week competitions. Getting people involved in shorter four-week formats with only 10 players has been much easier to get going.
“I think with the way community rugby is going across the country, it is something which could be looked at in male rugby as well, maybe in secondary schools and the more social senior grades.”
Eade said the ultimate goal was to build the female playing stocks to the point Southland could enter a team in New Zealand’s top flight women’s provincial rugby competition, the Farah Palmer Cup.
Other provinces, which hadn’t been involved in the Farah Palmer Cup previously, had this year opted to join the competition, he said.
However, he felt the best approach for Southland was to keep building playing numbers to the point that one day they were confident there was a group of players ready for that level.