Study double life for Rugby Sevens world champ

Psychology student Tayla Reti (third from left, back row) with the world-dominating Black Ferns Sevens women's rugby team

Being on the world-beating Black Ferns Sevens women’s rugby team has taught Massey University psychology student Tayla Reti how to keep her eye on the ball in both sporting and scholarly spheres.

She arrived back in New Zealand last Wednesday following the team’s triumph at the World Series in Clermont, France, where they beat Australia 22-7 in the final of their last tournament of the year.

“Every single game of that tournament was so intense!” Ms Reti says. “The girls brought a heap of intensity and determination to each game, and the final was no different.”

She was a reserve for the final, but didn't get time on the field. She played against Ireland and Fiji in the tournament.

Ms Reti says she was able to juggle sport and study commitments throughout the tournament. “I was just doing the usual work that we have to do as part of the programme and chipping away at my thesis.

“Both [Massey] uni and the management team have been great about making both work, so I've been very lucky.”

It’s been a whirlwind few months for the 24-year-old School of Psychology honours student and representative rugby player. She’s continued her studies alongside her rapid progress through the rugby playing ranks to be selected as a reserve first-five for the Black Ferns women’s national Sevens rugby team.

Ms Reti, Ngāi Tahu, already has a BA Honours and initially started the year with thoughts of adding to her honours thesis examining links between adolescent behaviour and alcohol by starting new research toward a doctorate.

Paramedics and stress – thesis focus

She has been working with Wellington Free Ambulance as part of a thesis project examining how the trauma of the job affects ambulance officers and how physical activity can positively affect that and help the paramedics cope with the sometime harrowing demands of the job.

At the start of the academic year she had barely played a competitive game of rugby and it’s her prowess in other sports that she believes may have contributed to her speedy rise in women’s rugby.

She only started playing Sevens in February but was soon trialling for the New Zealand Rugby Union’s Go for Gold programme with other athletes who played sports other than rugby.

She credits an independent training regime involving working on ball skills, experiencing other contact sports and going to the gym “every other day” as helping to get her up to speed with some of her other longer serving teammates. “I have two brothers who are rugby mad so that helps too.”

By early March Ms Reti was representing Massey at the University Sport NZ tournament and was then picked for a tournament team that was a training squad for the New Zealand University team.

She rapidly progressed from Wellington and regional training camps to a national development team training squad. She was then chosen to join a Black Ferns Sevens training camp in Tauranga for two weeks earning selection as a travelling reserve for the HSBC Sevens tournament in Canada and France.

“It’s all pretty overwhelming. I really want to learn and you can’t learn off anyone better than the top coaches and players in New Zealand and that was my goal.”

More competition is on the horizon and Ms Reti is confident she can juggle her sporting calendar with academic commitments.

She will follow up her research into the trauma reactions of ambulance officers by writing up her findings and eventually taking an internship with organisations such as a District Health Board.

“I like the idea of my research being both clinically and scientifically based,” she says.

Related articles

Rugby: Cultural identity influences motivation and style of play
Black Ferns rugby trials on campus

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 5:00pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey