The retrospective capping of Black Ferns started in 2018 to coincide with the first World Cup win in 1998.
The third instalment of the capping process (players are now internally capped) was celebrated at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Entertainment was provided by singer and comedian Jackie Clarke with guests enjoying a meal and drinks.
A lock and loose forward, Gubb played nine tests between 2015 and 2017. She is Black Fern 180.
“It was nice to be recognised and mix and mingle with girls I hadn't seen for a long time,” Gubb said.
“I left Auckland in 2017 to go to Canberra. My husband Charlie had a contract with the Raiders. In 2018 we ended up in Wellington where Charlie is from. I’ve had two kids and wanted to do the whole Mum thing but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.”
Gubb played for the Brumbies in Super W in 2018. In 2020 she was persuaded by Wellington Pride first-five Amanda Rasch to play for the Oriental Rongotai club in Miramar. Ories won the Wellington competition, going though the season unbeaten, and without conceding a point for 580 minutes. She kicked on to play all five matches for the Wellington Pride in the Farah Palmer Cup.
“When I got to Canberra and then Wellington I didn’t really know anyone, so rugby was a good way to make friends. I wanted to chill out. That’s not easy for me.”
Born in Tofoa, Tonga, Gubb migrated to New Zealand aged 11. A product of Massey High School, she signed up to play rugby through the Go for Gold recruitment drive in 2012. She was 24 years old.
Gubb immediately made the Black Ferns Sevens and was then selected for the Black Ferns tour of England in the same year, not making any Test appearances.
Over the next three seasons she came into her own, helping Auckland win national titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015. She played for the College Rifles club that won the 2016 and 2018 Coleman Shield crowns.
“Aldora Itunu, Anna Richards and Kiritapu Demant were all at the capping ceremony. College Rifles and Auckland had a really strong culture for rugby and it was because of my involvement with them that I made the Black Ferns.”
Gubb was one of 11 debutants in 2015 when she was picked for the Black Ferns tour of North America. She scored a try on her debut, a 40-22 win against Canada.
“My debut in Canada was a real highlight that will always stay with me. We had a huge group of new players that formed the basis of the team that won the World Cup in 2017.
“I didn’t get a lot of time in the World Cup itself but the competition for places was intense. When you look back at the names you were competing against you can only be proud that you were part of a group that was so successful and had such a good culture. I was competing against the likes of Linda Itunu, Sarah Hirini and Les Elder.”
Marist St Pats has never won the Wellington premier women’s competition but they have qualified first for the semi-finals on Saturday. Gubb has been a key part of the scarlet surge as assistant coach.
“Coaching is stressful and enjoyable at the same time. It’s great to see the growth of young players and build a culture of inclusion and excellence, but with five mothers in our team there is a lot of juggling.
“I’ve helped the girls have more belief in themselves and improved a few things here and there but most of the credit belongs to Ryan Setefano. He’s a long-time MSP player who's been with the women for seven years.
“Ryan has made a big commitment to the girls. He’s helped up-skill the ladies and built long-term relationships with them. We have 22 forwards in our squad. The hardest thing we’ve had to do this season is cut players.”
MSP is captained by flanker Jaydah Timu who celebrated her 50th match this season. Hooker Jayne Bryce scored two tries in their 24-19 win over previous table-toppers Norths last Saturday. Black Fern Monica Tagoai and Wellington Pride outside back Thamsyn Newton and Georgia Daals have featured.