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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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Nation’s best roll into Tauranga

Posted at 3:50pm Friday 24 Nov, 2017 | By Sam Gardner

Teams from Auckland to as far as Dunedin will battle it out in Tauranga this weekend for some of the nation’s top roller derby titles at this year’s Top Ten competition.

The event, which is being held at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre, will establish the best of the best, on skates, in New Zealand.

The competition is being split into two divisions and teams will battle for either the Plate or Trophy.

Event organiser, and Whakatane Roller Derby jammer, Caitlin Burns says she expects a massive weekend.

“The Top Ten teams have each played round robins throughout the year, and from this eight teams will be at the event this weekend,” she says.

“Throughout the year we split the Top Ten into two pools of five teams and they each played each other once, in each pool.

“If you win all your games you’re at the top of your pool, if you lose them you are at the bottom.”

Four teams from each pool have secured their attendance in the plate and trophy divisions at this weekend’s event.

“Top Ten is a yearly event, open for public to come along and watch,” she says. “Our rankings for 2018 are taken from the results of this tournament.

“All the trophy games from this tournament are sanctioned by the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association and that goes towards our international rankings. The plate games aren’t sanctioned but they still go towards our New Zealand rankings.”

Last year was the first Top Ten tournament, hosted by Swamp City in Palmerston North, she says.

“During this tournament they offered this event out to all teams to host it and we were the first to put our hand up for the job,” says Caitlin.

Caitlin is one of three organisers who have helped bring the event to the Bay of Plenty, alongside assistance from teammates Veronica Diamond and Lania Lopez.

She says it has the potential to be one of the largest roller derby events the Bay of Plenty has ever hosted.

“Last year we ran a boot camp which was coached by four skaters from Victorian Roller Derby League – they’re now world champions – so that was pretty big and we had about 150 skaters come to that.

“We’re hoping this event will be even bigger than that,” she says. “Between officials and skaters we’re expecting around 200 people, plus spectators.

“We also have two officials coming from Adelaide, which is good for our officials because it means we have someone who’s been there and done it before, who knows how to organise these kind of events and it takes stress off us.

“Hosting this event here is going to be great for the Bay, most of the teams bring about 15-20 skaters and team staff with them which will be good for the economy.”

It is the second year the event has run, says Caitlin.

“Last year the trophy and the plate games were held on different weekends, which was good, but this year we’ve decided to get all the teams together at once and make a big weekend out of it.”

Caitlin’s team is one of two who have qualified from the Bay of Plenty, with Rotorua’s Sulphur City Steam Rollers joining the line-up.

“We’re in the plate division and we are really hoping to win that, which would make us fifth overall.

“Last year we came second in the plate, placing sixth in the 2016 tournament.”

She says WRDL will go head-to-head against some great teams.

“Each team only has one game a day, which is pretty chill,” says Caitlin. “We go into it playing Rotorua at 1pm.”

“There is also another game where the Napier team, Bay City Rollers, are playing against the Palmerston North team, Swamp City. They’ve played each other two or three times this year and it’s always been close.”

She says it’s been a busy year for WRDL.

“Last month we participated in the first WFTDA tournament in New Zealand, we didn’t lose all our games so that was rad,” she says. “That had four or five teams from New Zealand and two teams from Australia.

“We’ve played New Zealand’s highest ranked team, Pirate City, who are 53 in the international WFTDA rankings and we played a really good game against them.

“We’ve also played Dunedin, who have been ranked quite closely to our team throughout the year, and beat them by one point in the last jam.”

Also on the Whakatane Roller Derby League is Fiona Dominick, better known as McFeerce, who was selected earlier this year for the official New Zealand women’s team, Team Aotearoa.

“McFeerce has been chosen to travel to Manchester in February, where they will compete for the World Cup.

“She is amazing, and everyone should definitely come and watch the amazing things she does, as well as the almost-as-equally-amazing things the rest of the team does.”

Team Aotearoa will also make an appearance at this weekend’s event playing the New Zealand Men’s Roller Derby team on Saturday at 6pm. Both teams will be attending their respective world cups in early 2018.

See the game for yourself this weekend on Saturday between 9am-6pm and finals on Sunday from 9am-3pm at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre.

Entry cost $30 for full weekend, $20 for one day and $10 for an afternoon spectators pass, from 1pm onwards on either day.


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