Renee making mark, again

WORKING OUT: Renee Holmes does gym work to help condition herself for the Farah Palmer Cup, the women’s national provincial rugby competition. Picture by Paul Rickard

SHE has already represented New Zealand teams in two sports, been named in a paper side for a third, and is a former junior national champion in a fourth.

So it should be no surprise that Year 13 Gisborne Girls’ High School athlete Renee Holmes is making an impression on the national stage in her fifth sport, playing for the Hawke’s Bay Tuis in the women’s rugby NPC.

Renee made her Farah Palmer Cup debut against the Wellington Pride on September 2, and in her second game, against the Bay of Plenty Volcanix in Napier, received her team’s player of the match award.

Last month she was awarded the Women’s MVP accolade at the Hastings Rugby and Sports Club end-of-season senior prizegiving, after finishing top points-scorer for the team in her first full season of rugby.

Renee also recently captained her Gisborne Girls’ High School team to victory in the Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools competition against Hastings Girls’ High School, scoring a try and kicking two conversions in a 19-15 win.

​Renee has been making the regular three-hour commute between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay all season.

“I travel down to Hastings every Wednesday for training and then again for game day on Saturdays,” she said.

“My dad (Laurie Holmes) does the driving; he is willing to do the hard yards with me, which is really cool.”

She has also been named as one of three Gisborne players out of 120 girls selected in the inaugural New Zealand under-17 and u18 sevens development camp and trials coming up in October.

Renee is relatively new to rugby, but has a wealth of experience playing other sports that more than makes up for it.

She played National League football for the New Zealand under-17 girls’ side in 2015, and was twice asked to play for Central Football but withdrew before the season started.

“I played football before rugby, which I only just started playing last year,” she said

“I was really big on football and I moved to Auckland and to Massey High School in Year 11. I was a holding midfielder or a fullback and I played for the New Zealand under-17s in the national women’s league.”

Draw back to Gisborne

But the pull of family and home drew her back to Gisborne.

“I have a little brother and my connection with him is really strong and it was really hard being away from him and my dad. I realised that I wanted to be back in Gisborne to do my schooling and be around them while I can before I get older and find other opportunities elsewhere again.

“Football wasn’t really strong enough here and I wasn’t allowed to play with the boys, so once back home I gave rugby a go and I love playing that now.”

Renee started playing sevens rugby in early 2016 for her Gisborne Girls’ High School team. They went to the Condors in Auckland in December.

She started playing 15s rugby at the start of 2017.

“There’s no women’s rugby in Gisborne, so I started playing club rugby down in Hawke’s Bay.”

As well as football and rugby, Renee has ultimate (sometimes called ultimate frisbee), ki o rahi and taekwondo in her sporting catalogue.

Last year Renee was the top points-scorer at the u20 women’s ultimate world championships in Poland. She scored 42 times in eight games for New Zealand Kahu and was named runner-up MVP for the tournament, behind the Colombian captain, out of 900 athletes competing.

“At school we picked up a team to compete at an ultimate tournament and went away, competed and I got asked to play in an Auckland regional team (no Gisborne team existed) and then made the New Zealand team. That was a long, hard-working campaign, but it paid off as we finished fifth after being ranked 21 going into the tournament.”

She was selected for New Zealand again this year, but had to decline because of her rugby commitments.

This year Renee was also named in the New Zealand ki o rahi secondary schools team after her Gisborne Girls’ High School team finished third at the national tournament in Papakura.

Although at this stage that team is a paper-based side, Renee hopes they can organise some transtasman competition and that she will then have the time to compete.

She is also a former World Taekwondo national champion, winning that title while she was still at primary school.

“That’s where I started off. I haven’t competed for a while now, but that was pretty much my thing when I was young and my passion for sport started from that.”

Coming from Gisborne, she also enjoys surfing and other sports.

“I love surfing, but I just do that for fun and as my getaway from other sports. Lots of Gisborne girls also do waka ama but they train two to three times a day and I don’t have much time for that.”

​Renee has enough on her sporting plate, but she loves it.

SHE has already represented New Zealand teams in two sports, been named in a paper side for a third, and is a former junior national champion in a fourth.

So it should be no surprise that Year 13 Gisborne Girls’ High School athlete Renee Holmes is making an impression on the national stage in her fifth sport, playing for the Hawke’s Bay Tuis in the women’s rugby NPC.

Renee made her Farah Palmer Cup debut against the Wellington Pride on September 2, and in her second game, against the Bay of Plenty Volcanix in Napier, received her team’s player of the match award.

Last month she was awarded the Women’s MVP accolade at the Hastings Rugby and Sports Club end-of-season senior prizegiving, after finishing top points-scorer for the team in her first full season of rugby.

Renee also recently captained her Gisborne Girls’ High School team to victory in the Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools competition against Hastings Girls’ High School, scoring a try and kicking two conversions in a 19-15 win.

​Renee has been making the regular three-hour commute between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay all season.

“I travel down to Hastings every Wednesday for training and then again for game day on Saturdays,” she said.

“My dad (Laurie Holmes) does the driving; he is willing to do the hard yards with me, which is really cool.”

She has also been named as one of three Gisborne players out of 120 girls selected in the inaugural New Zealand under-17 and u18 sevens development camp and trials coming up in October.

Renee is relatively new to rugby, but has a wealth of experience playing other sports that more than makes up for it.

She played National League football for the New Zealand under-17 girls’ side in 2015, and was twice asked to play for Central Football but withdrew before the season started.

“I played football before rugby, which I only just started playing last year,” she said

“I was really big on football and I moved to Auckland and to Massey High School in Year 11. I was a holding midfielder or a fullback and I played for the New Zealand under-17s in the national women’s league.”

Draw back to Gisborne

But the pull of family and home drew her back to Gisborne.

“I have a little brother and my connection with him is really strong and it was really hard being away from him and my dad. I realised that I wanted to be back in Gisborne to do my schooling and be around them while I can before I get older and find other opportunities elsewhere again.

“Football wasn’t really strong enough here and I wasn’t allowed to play with the boys, so once back home I gave rugby a go and I love playing that now.”

Renee started playing sevens rugby in early 2016 for her Gisborne Girls’ High School team. They went to the Condors in Auckland in December.

She started playing 15s rugby at the start of 2017.

“There’s no women’s rugby in Gisborne, so I started playing club rugby down in Hawke’s Bay.”

As well as football and rugby, Renee has ultimate (sometimes called ultimate frisbee), ki o rahi and taekwondo in her sporting catalogue.

Last year Renee was the top points-scorer at the u20 women’s ultimate world championships in Poland. She scored 42 times in eight games for New Zealand Kahu and was named runner-up MVP for the tournament, behind the Colombian captain, out of 900 athletes competing.

“At school we picked up a team to compete at an ultimate tournament and went away, competed and I got asked to play in an Auckland regional team (no Gisborne team existed) and then made the New Zealand team. That was a long, hard-working campaign, but it paid off as we finished fifth after being ranked 21 going into the tournament.”

She was selected for New Zealand again this year, but had to decline because of her rugby commitments.

This year Renee was also named in the New Zealand ki o rahi secondary schools team after her Gisborne Girls’ High School team finished third at the national tournament in Papakura.

Although at this stage that team is a paper-based side, Renee hopes they can organise some transtasman competition and that she will then have the time to compete.

She is also a former World Taekwondo national champion, winning that title while she was still at primary school.

“That’s where I started off. I haven’t competed for a while now, but that was pretty much my thing when I was young and my passion for sport started from that.”

Coming from Gisborne, she also enjoys surfing and other sports.

“I love surfing, but I just do that for fun and as my getaway from other sports. Lots of Gisborne girls also do waka ama but they train two to three times a day and I don’t have much time for that.”

​Renee has enough on her sporting plate, but she loves it.

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