Moana Virtue says she just fell into coaching and that ‘fall’ might just have been a catalyst to great things.
A long-time rugby player, once Virtue’s body stopped coping, she didn’t want to step away from the game.
“I didn’t want to leave the game. I get old and my body’s falling apart, so what do you do?” she said.
Virtue coached the Queensland women at last month’s Brisbane Tens and, more significantly, became the first women in 15 years to complete the country’s level 3 coaching accreditation.
It’s a stat she was shocked at when rolling up to the first day of the course, but a trailblazing path seems like one the passionate Virtue wants to embrace.
“I was like ‘what, what?’ Take me back, what did you just say?’,” she said.
“So, it’s quite refreshing and all the lecturers, they were like, ‘Wow’, just to see me there and they all wanted to have a chat.
“Everyone’s keen to get more women coaches involved. When I look around, there’s not that many.”
While there are female support staff dotted throughout Super Rugby clubs, none have a female in their coaching staff.
Even in the women’s domain, the women’s Sevens and Wallaroos are coached by Tim Walsh and Paul Verrell, respectively, though both of those men have played critical roles in advancing the profile of women’s rugby.
Though she might have been somewhat of a novelty as the sole woman in the high-level course, Virtue feels the winds of change are beginning to blow.
“It’s definitely changing and that’s (having more female coaches) where it’s going to head, which is awesome because I’m like ‘Get out of my road’,” she laughs.
“Males get out, it’s our turn.”
Virtue feels moves to change that need to start at the grassroots level, where she found her feet with Brisbane’s Easts Tigers before moving over to Sunnybank.
“It probably needs to start from club level, clubs need to start to get women coaches involved and trying to keep them in the game,” she said.
“A lot of them (ex-players) are having kids so it’s hard because coaching takes up a lot of your time but it has to start at grassroots, because you really have to do your time as a coach and learn the ropes, have someone to bounce ideas off.”
Virtue’s time is starting to pay off – as well as her state duties, she will be at the helm of Griffith University in the University Women’s Sevens competition.
Talk about developing a women’s NRC would boost numbers, she believes, though that competition is unlikely to be implemented in the immediate future, with the ARU keen to ensure the longevity of its male counterpart, still just three seasons old.
As a coach, Virtue’s most rewarding moments come from seeing her players rise through the ranks and that’s all she wants for women with the clipboard too.
“I do want to coach the Wallaroos, that’s the ultimate goal,” she said
“I’ve got my finger in a lot of pies, but it’s all opportunity.
“I don’t want to say no.”