Over 500 young men and women had the opportunity to show off their skills and athleticism yesterday, as the Australian Rugby Union’s Search for a Star took place across the country looking to identify players who may have the potential to represent their country in Rugby Sevens.
Program and development officers from state unions across the country were tasked with identifying young men and women they believed had the potential to play Rugby Sevens at an international standard – with the ultimate goal being to represent Australia in the 2016 or 2020 Olympics.
After expressing their interest online, players from varying backgrounds – sporting or otherwise - were taken through a series of tests, working on their fitness, endurance, pace and ability to tackle, catch and pass.
After camps have been completed, players will be selected to join state squads from which teams picked for the Youth Sevens National Championship to be held in March next year.
ARU Pathway Services Manager for Rugby Sevens, Dale Roberson, was extremely happy with the level of interest the camps received from across the country, in particular Sydney and Brisbane, with registration closing early due to an overwhelming amount of applicants.
He said: “The turnout was spectacular with a wide range of boys and girls coming from very diverse sporting backgrounds, ranging from athletics right through to netball. Camps like these are a great way to identify future rugby stars as it allows us to test those who regularly play rugby as well as those who do not.”
“Whilst there were some boys and girls identified over the weekend that we didn’t know about, there were also some Rugby XVs player who attended that have been noticed in the past, which is a great thing to see for the sport of Rugby Sevens.”
Program and Development officers from up and down the country echoed Roberson’s sentiments.
“Due to such large numbers, we had to split the group in two, running a session in the morning and one in the afternoon”, said NSW Rugby Union Senior Development Manager, Adam Crane.
“With over 270 applicants in NSW alone, camps like these are a great way to expose this ‘up-and-coming’ generation to Rugby Sevens.”
CEO of SA Rugby Lachlan Clark, was happy to see a turnout of around 35 boys and girls at the Old Collegians Rugby Club in Linden Park, noting all participants relished the opportunity to play the sport in what is essentially an AFL-dominated region.
“We had some really positive results yesterday with talented athletes emerging from rival sports. We even had an Olympic Youth Gold medalist show us her range of talents on the pitch”, said Clark.
Queensland welcomed over 100 teenagers keen to prove their worth to the Sevens talent scouts. Queensland Rugby Union Development Manager, Lachlan Parkinson, believes that as many as 14 players have the potential to move up to the next level.
“There were a number of really good athletes who attended the camp on Sunday, with ten boys and four girls standing out in particular,” said Parkinson.
“From here, the boys will move on to the Emerging Program, with the girls joining the Youth Development Squad. It’s great to have a competition like this especially in Queensland as it seems to be a hotbed for Rugby Sevens. Not to mention, the kids really enjoy the vibe of the camp, which make our jobs a whole lot easier.”
Tyronne Mitchell, Development and Elite Sevens Manager, Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union, said: “Out of the 70 boys and girls that turned up, we had around 40% that didn’t play organized rugby, which was great to see. At the end of the day, we were able to pick a mixed squad of 20 with 6 of those from other sports”
“16 girls attended with only one having rugby experience. Interestingly, we also had with us eight players from interstate. It was a very big day, but everyone there really enjoyed it”
“We will kick off the state ‘stuff’ next week”
Western Australia and Northern Queensland are set to hold their camps on the 2nd and 16th of November respectively.
For information on how to join, check out the Rugby Sevens section of the website.