— Aussie 7s (@Aussie7s) 24 August 2017
2017 saw the launch of the inaugural AON Rugby 7’s Women’s National University series. A fantastic development for Australian women in rugby, having the opportunity to travel inter-state and compete in a four-tournament series, jam-packed of talent development and to much excitement Olympic Gold medallists!
The ARU agreed to include at least two Australian Sevens players in each of the nine university teams, across the country.
Pictured in the tweet from Aussie 7s, representing the Macquaire University Sydney Rays, is in fact myself! As a rookie to Rugby and Rugby 7s, only playing for one season. I took a dive in the deep end, learning to play something totally different (and totally fun!) after competing in Track and Field for the majority of my life and fortunately the opportunity of representing my country a few times over. This series was such a fantastic way to immerse myself in Rugby Union, as I was given the valuable opportunity to learn and develop as a player.
The Sydney Rays turned their program into a professional, contract-based team. Indulging in all the professional aspects of a National union team. We were very spoilt with experienced 7s coach Nathan McMmahon taking lead, assistant coach Australian Rugby 7s Olympian James Stannard and Strength and Conditioning king Tim Rowland.
Tim provided a state of the art strength program for the Rookies, like myself who were new to Union. He gave us the skill development to mould into confident rugby women, not to be reckoned with on the field. Additionally we had a gruelling, but necessary two-day training camp, at the Australian Rugby 7S HQ, Sydney Academy of Sport Narrabean; prior to the first round for the AON series.
We were also given team building days, including goal-setting and personal development, game day and training video analysis tools, access to recovery systems post-game including Cryotherapy, plunge pools and pool recovery sessions. Experienced on-site physiotherapists were implemented for training and game day needs. We were even given a boots sponsor from ”X-Blades,” which are the most comfortable, durable footy boots I’ve ever owned! And to top it off, an insightful team manager, keeping us all in the loop.
The series kicked off in icy Tasmania on 25-26th August, our Rays women taking out the silver medal for the tournament. The next series was on home turf 8-9th September, at Macquaire University Sport Fields. Unfortunately we missed out on a medal-match and finished fourth. The final two tournaments were in maroon territory playing at University of Queensland 15th-16th September and Bond University HQ 29th-30th. With two silver medals to add to the collection, it was enough for the Macqauire Rays to finish bronze on the overall medal tally, behind the champions University of Queensland and silver medallists Bond University.
In my eighteen years, of elite track and field, this program was something Athletics can take a leaf from. I felt supported, welcomed and indulged in a wealth of knowledge on how to improve my rugby performance, quickly and efficiently. It was also incredibly insightful and motivating to have Olympian Chloe Dalton and Australian representative Dominique De Toit, playing alongside our Rays.
I was lucky enough to feature in the ”women-doing-wonderful-things-in-sport” podcast by Mary Konstantopoulos ”Ladies Who League,” Prior to the AON Series kick-off. Take a listen to this passionate woman’s guide to Rugby League and celebrating all things happening in the Australian sporting world.
Thanks to this Rugby series, I was lucky enough to be a part of a national program. To have met (and tackled) women of all backgrounds, of all different levels of experience and of determination and strength. I could not be more excited for the future of Rugby 7s in Australia. With the amount of talent I got to witness on that paddock, we are in for a few more gold medals yet, Australia!
To keep up to date with The Sydney Rays, especially ahead of the first Women’s NRC 15-aside series, check out: http://www.raysrugby.com.au