Having watched the Buildcorp Nationals, I thought the standard was better than at previous nationals with a higher level of fitness and basic skill sets.
It is fair to say that the growth and development of women’s rugby in Australia is rapidly improving and is pleasing that each year at the National Championships, Australian Rugby is unearthing new talent, whether that be new kids out of school or experienced players reinventing their game.
I know all the girls who are in contention on making the flight to Rio have a very close eye on the XVs game, and I for one would be pumped to be a part of the Wallaroos, but judging by some of the talent on show at Riverview, it won't be an easy side to just waltz into with so many standout performers.
Sarah Riordan of New South Wales Country was one to watch with her blistering ability to break the defensive line. Playing at 10 or 12 she was a standout with her tackle busting ability enabling her team to gain front foot ball and change the momentum of the game.
Rebecca Clough was a brick wall in defence for Western Australia leading her troops in to action. Always the first in the defensive line, willing to put her body on the line for her teammates. Clough was a vital cog in their line out set up causing headaches for teams in both defence and attack.
Victoria Latu from Sydney was an absolute powerhouse and vital element with her storming runs throughout the weekend getting Sydney front foot ball. She was a standout all weekend with her sheer ability to break the line and get in behind the defensive line enabling the Sydney backline to weave their magic.Sydney’s skipper Ashleigh Hewson off the back of a dominate forward pack and excellent combination with Iliseva Batibasaga was instrumental in Sydney taking out the title. Her ability to spread the ball wide, kick into space and defensively stop anyone in her path was exceptional. Not to mention her ability to kick penalty goals from almost anywhere on the field.
Yes I am proud of these girls and they way they performed, and the rapid growth of Womens Rugby, but good Rugby gets good exposure, and I feel this competition delivered and we are now starting to see just rewards for the Women’s game.
The backing of Buildcorp and the ARU in enabling the Wallaroos to play lead up games in New Zealand, particularly in front of the crowd at the Bledisloe Cup, will increase the general public’s awareness of the talent available in women’s Rugby and provide a clear incentive for those girls wanting to play. Any matches or camps that the Buildcorp Wallaroos are able to attain prior to the 2017 World Cup will be invaluable for the squad.
A high performance mindset and pursuit of excellence will give us exposure, and both of these are almost impossible without sponsorship and support.
Women’s rugby is now one of the fastest growing sports in the world. While our Australian Women’s Sevens team is at the forefront of this phenomenon, we now have the opportunity to increase the profile of the women’s XV’s game.
Undoubtedly the future of Australian women’s rugby is in safe hands, and although Sevens has captured the hearts of minds of the Australian public, don’t under estimate the rapid growth and steps towards World Cup success for our Wallaroo’s.
With the Wallaroos squad set to be announced in the coming week I am sure the selectors will have a lot to think about having seen the talent on display at the Buildcorp Women’s Nationals.
Shannon Parry is a Wallaroo and Australian Women's Sevens player from Queensland, with a Bachelor in Education from Griffith University, Brisbane.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ARU.