Saturday, May 18, 2024

From Howick College head girl to Hokkaido rugby star

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Former Howick College head girl Dajian Brown has received a contract to play rugby in Hokkaido, Japan.

Former head girl of Howick College in 2020, Dajian Brown, has secured a contract to play semi-professional rugby in Japan at the completion of the Super Rugby Aupiki season.

The 20-year-old says the prospect of playing rugby in a different country is a surreal feeling.

“Nothing beats playing on home soil, but with the Super Rugby Aupiki season being so short, having opportunities to play overseas is such a blessing, especially being a female athlete,” Brown says.

She says she is most looking forward to the culture of Japan.

“Being in a country that’s first language isn’t English is definitely going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to the culture shift in all honesty,” she says.

Brown has racked up quite the impressive rugby CV since completing Howick College in 2020, being selected for the Moana Pasifika women’s sevens and Nib Blues sides to name a couple.

She also featured in the newly-established Premier Rugby Sevens competition in the United States where she played for the Headliners.

“To be doing what I love while being able to travel and experience life outside of New Zealand at such a young age has been unreal. I am so grateful that rugby has provided these opportunities for me,” says Brown.

Brown featured in the first ever women’s Moana Pasifika sevens side.

She had originally planned on being in Japan in February but was offered a contract with the NIB Blues in the Super Rugby Aupiki competition.

“The Hokkaido Barbarians understood that this was also another great opportunity for myself that I could not turn down and had agreed for me to join them after the completion of the Aupiki season,” says Brown.

She will spend the next four months with the Hokkaido Barbarians, competing in the Taiyo Seimei Women’s series.

Howick College director of sport, Adelita Sotutu, says Dajian always represented her school with pride.

“From the beginning, she fully immersed herself in school life, playing netball, tag and also having a go at rugby,” Sotutu says.

In 2018, Dajian was part of the U15 girls rugby sevens team that won nationals at Sacred Heart College, and then went on to become part of the senior girls sevens side that also won nationals for the first time.

Going to Japan to play rugby won’t be a completely new experience for Brown, representing Howick College in the 2019 Sanix tournament- “an experience enjoyed by everyone,” Sotutu says.

Straight out of school, Brown was given the opportunity to play in the first Moana Pasifika women’s sevens team.

“Honoured would have to be an understatement. I was speechless and pretty shocked that I was even asked to play to be completely honest. It was such a heart-warming feeling to play a part in the beginning of something so special for Pasifika women,” she says.

Brown says she has been fortunate enough to call rugby her job since leaving Howick College, but going to university to study is on the horizon.

“Some of the money I make from this will be going towards my career outside of rugby when I decide studying is right for me, but at the moment I’m just taking in the experience of being a semi-professional athlete and enjoying every bit of it,” she says.

When asked about the greatest influence in her short, yet successful career, Brown said she owes all her success to her family.

“It takes a village to raise a child and I definitely feel I owe my successes to my ‘village’, but most importantly my parents.

“I cannot put it into words how grateful I am for my parents and all they have sacrificed for me … as well as my Nana; seeing her after a long day of training is always rewarding,” says Brown.

Howick College girls rugby continues to succeed with former students Isla Norman-Bell currently playing for the England national side and Great Britain rugby sevens team, and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea playing for the Australian women’s sevens team.

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