Busy Week of Netball and Rugby Finals for Campbell Siblings

It is a busy week for Tara and Ietitaia Campbell – brother and sister involved in two major College Sport Wellington finals this week.

On Monday night, Tara’s St Mary’s College Senior A side retained the Wellington Premier Regional Netball League title when they beat St Oran’s College 39-29 in the final.

This coming Sunday, Ietitaia’s Scots College First XV rugby team takes on St Pat’s Silverstream in the Wellington First XV Premiership final at Porirua Park.

Tara is year 13 at St Mary’s College and Campbell is year 11.

We caught up the siblings prior to their finals and asked them some questions about their busy sporting life for their respective teams in their sporting deciders.

CSM: Congratulations on your involvement in your team’s successful season in reaching the Premiership finals of your respective codes.  Tell us about your role in your team, what position you play, and how long you have been in the team? 

Tara: I made our Senior A in Year 11. It was quite daunting but also an awesome experience to play amongst talented athletes, especially alongside Beko and Pulse players. I have always played in the mid court and this season I am playing wing attack. I enjoy playing and supporting my teammates and to have fun along the way.

Ietitaia: I played my first game as a year 10 in the First XV, last year. Last year we had a lot of year 13s in the team so I felt like I was a rookie who had just made the NBA. Towards the end of that year, I slowly gained confidence and started to talk and speak out more. In 2020, we lost our previous year 13’s which meant younger players coming through. This year I have played 12 and 13 for our team and I have enjoyed every minute as you cannot take opportunities like this for granted.

CSM: How are you looking forward to playing in your College Sport Wellington finals coming up? Have you played in big finals previously (for this team or another team)?

Tara [answered on the eve of her final]: I am really looking forward to playing on Monday.  I was hoping we would be able to have spectators on Monday night, to play in front of family and friends however this is not possible. We lost to St Oran’s in round robin competition and this game will be a great tussle. This season has been a strange one, however I am grateful we got to play, and to make the RSSL final, in my final year is pretty special.

Ietitaia: Having played in the final last year, I feel this final coming up is more daunting. For the first time in a while we might have a crowd involved.  It’s been different with no crowd on a Saturday. The boys have worked so hard to get to this point of our season, from the extra morning training’s down in the gym. This has been a goal all year for our team and achieving that goal, everyone is fizzing and ready for the game.  Silverstream has been the form team all year and has beaten us twice.  They will be very hard to beat and we will need to be better than our best.

CSM: Prior to your final, do you have a highlight or memorable moment so far this year?

Tara: Due to Covid most of our tournaments have been cancelled and our season was cut short. However, we were lucky to be invited to an Invitational tournament, during the second week of the holidays. This is being hosted by St Peters in Cambridge. Travelling together as a team and playing some of the best colleges in New Zealand will definitely be a highlight. As a junior rower, I was lucky to go to Maadi Cup. It was a wonderful experience, which I was lucky to do.

Ietitaia: A highlight from the year is seeing everyone come together and the sense of camaraderie. We remember the standards that we set out earlier in the year, that we try and stick to. From homework club, to after school training’s and bonding together as brothers.

CSM: How long have you been playing rugby/netball and do you have an early or favourite memory from when you were young playing or watching or supporting it that made you want to keep playing and be successful when you were older?

Tara: I have been playing netball for 11 years. I love the team unity, especially when playing in tournaments. At intermediate, my netball team went to the AIMS Games in Tauranga, this was a lot of fun and it was amazing to see how many students are involved in the variety of sports they have. Growing up I loved watching the Australian netball teams.

Ietitaia: I remember watching my cousins, Salesi and Fritz Rayasi, play for St. Pats Silverstream. They have always been an inspiration to me. I started playing rugby at Hutt Old Boys Marist when I was 4.  With my dad coaching there, I basically lived either at home, at school or at the rugby club.  I was 8 years old when Hutt won the Jubilee Cup in 2014.  I think I went to every training, every game, and was in every halftime huddle. Players like Rizzy (Nick Risdon), Thrushy (Jeremy Thrush), Chase Tiatia, Tomasi Alosio, my uncle Otto Rasch (the whole club really) looked after me and Arran Lee (Matt Lee’s son). They were guys I looked up to.

CSM: Do you or have you also played other sports?

Tara: I also play rugby sevens and touch rugby, I started playing sevens seriously in Year 11 which was out of my comfort zone. Last year I was selected in the NZ U18 Maori team for Sevens. We played in the World Series tournament which was super exciting. I played touch rugby for Wellington and have also rowed for St Marys, in year 9 and 10.

Ietitaia: Rugby and cricket had been my main two sports growing up as I enjoyed playing cricket over the summer. Since I started college I haven’t played as much cricket as some would’ve liked as I had focused on school and rugby.

CSM: You have the support of your parents, dad being a former Premier winning club rugby coach and assistant coach of the Scots College 1st XV  and mum being a former leading player and coach and current co-coach of the SMC netball A side. What are their positive influences on you? 

Tara: I’ve only ever known my mum and dad as coaches and not as players in their respective sports. Mum represented Samoa at 2 netball world championships and played for the PIC netball club. I know my dad wasn’t too bad at rugby either, playing for St Bernard’s in their 1st XV team and representing age group teams for Wellington and Wellington Maori. Our family has always been around sport since I can remember.

Mum and dad have always supported Ietitaia and I in whatever we’ve wanted to try. They are always willing to help and have given us opportunities that I am very grateful for.

Ietitaia: Mum and dad have always been there with me at my sports games. It isn’t often when mum or dad aren’t involved in sport with Tara and me in some type of way. They’ve always helped whether it be organising raffles, volunteering to coach, driving us to training’s and games, making food. Other players in our teams have also benefited from mum and dad’s generosity.

CSM: Do you have a favourite rugby/netball elite player or team, and why? 

Tara: The New South Wales Swifts have always been a team I have followed, and this was because of Sharni Layton. She was an awesome athlete, playing for the Swifts, the Magpies and the Diamonds.  Sharni is now playing Aussie Rules after a successful career as a netballer. She was very vocal and her timing to gain intercepts and get the ball through the court was quick.

Ietitaia: Growing up I loved watching the Chiefs play when Sonny Bill Williams was playing.  Now I think the Hurricanes are one of my favourite teams to watch, as they have so many superstars who can impact the game at any time.

CSM: In a typical week in 2020 (both during and since the lockdown in June) how often do you spend training or practicing by yourself or with your teams for your sports in 2020? 

Tara: During lockdown, we trained every day. This was either doing shuttles, runs, ballwork or circuits. When lockdown was lifted, it was back to school and less time to train. I try to get to the gym in the mornings before school with my Dad, where he usually helps me with weights and shuttles.

Ietitaia: At school, our training days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Thursday being the more physical training day and Tuesday is working on tidying up errors that may have occurred in our previous game. Friday is our final preparation before going into the game. It is usually a Team Captains run. Monday and Wednesday are rest days for study and homework. We weren’t as fit as we should have been following Lockdown, so Willie Leota our coach, organised Monday and Wednesday morning fitness sessions, which started at 6:30am.

CSW: do you have a saying or philosophy that you have that helps you in your sport? 

Tara: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Ietitaia:  I always remember what my Scots College Middle School Principal, Matt Allen said to me; He made it very clear that rugby is option D or E, that my academic studies are very important as options A, B, C.  His words help keep me focused on more than just rugby.

CSW: What are your favourite and least favourite subjects at school, and Tara (year 13) do you know what you are doing next year?

Tara: I have done Art since Year 9 which I enjoy. I am keen to go to Vic Uni next year and complete a Bachelor of Arts, with the intention of becoming a teacher.

Ietitaia: To be honest, at school I don’t really have a favourite subject. They are all very helpful and can teach me many things. We had our mock exams for Level 1 last week and they all went well so it is now preparing for the end of year exams and looking to doing well in those too.


-Story courtesy of College Sport Media