Bowen giving to rugby any way he can

by Jill Scanlon

Scott Bowen has worn the hats of player, coach, manager and mentor, and that's just in rugby.

Familiar to most in recent years in his guise as Women’s Sevens team manager, sharing the space on the sidelines with Aussie coach Tim Walsh, the quietly spoken Bowen is one of the key elements behind the team's development and success.

Wallaby #706, Bowen played in the green and gold from 1993-1996 having progressed through the traditional rugby pathway.

So being involved at school, representative, coaching and management levels with union most of his life, you would be forgiven for thinking he was a rugby man through and through.

But in his own words he is a fanatical Cronulla Sharks fan and was raised in 'the Shire', in Sydney's south.

“I’m a pretty fanatical Sharks supporter, that’s always been a passion growing up,” he said.

“I used to be a ball boy for the Sharks back in the 80s. So it’s league first of all, but then (it was) union once I went to Newington.”

The passion for League came from his father who played as a front rower for St George and Cronulla.

 

Sharks & Dragons good old photos of Dad

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Bowen played both rugby codes, cricket and even at one point, after retirement from the elite level of union, turned his natural ball sports talent (and boots) to Aussie Rules.

The Bowen family has sport flowing through it with Scott, his father and even his father-in-law, tennis legend Tony Roche, laying the foundations for a strong sporting gene pool.

Bowen now watches on as his own children pursue their loves of sport – his two sons showing that their father’s ability at ball sports runs in the genes playing rugby, tennis and basketball, while his daughter has taken up the sevens challenge, as have many of her generation inspired by the Aussie women.

“She’s done Viva7s and she’d love to go on and play tackle – I think she’s mad – but she’s obviously been inspired by this generation of girls and not only by what they’re doing on the field, but how they are off the field,” he said.

Bowen received his debut cap with the Wallabies in 1993, with Michael Lynagh unavailable to play for the first Test against the Springboks.

Involved in both World Cup and Bledisloe Cup matches in 1995, Bowen was struck by injuries later the following year and continued playing Super Rugby until retiring in 1999.

Relative normality then took over with a ‘regular’ job in marketing and management, with some district rugby coaching on the side and that foray into AFL football for several years just to keep his sporting hand in.

Taking up fuller rugby commitments through coaching roles for a few years with the NSW Waratahs, Bowen’s biggest opportunity, as he would come to realise, came in 2012.

He was approached about being a part of the Australian Sevens development project and with the possibility of the Olympics looming, he joined the ranks of the high performance outfit.

“I went to Dubai as my first tournament in 2012 – in that team there was Emilee Cherry, Rebecca Tavo and Sharni Williams,” he said.

Bowen was impressed with the talent he saw within the squad and knowing it was set to be an Olympic sport just underlined the possibilities to him of what could be achieved.

“I went to training sessions and watched. I was extremely impressed with them – particularly Emilee Cherry stood out,” Bowen said.

"I’ve been with the team ever since.

“Over the last four years, Tim and I have worked together to shape the people in the team and searched high and wide for those we thought were going to be suitable for Sevens and the skill set we needed to bring the World Championship home - which was very obviously rewarding.:

With a loose title of Performance Manager, across both Sevens sides, Bowen fell into a version of his current role as far back as 2015, but this year stepped away from the sidelines to continue fully in that vein.

“I’m just overseeing and leading the program in conjunction with Tim and Andy (Friend).  Where I can, I help both those guys with the contracting, financials and then overseeing the development program as well," he said

“(Because) I’ve been involved with the team for a period of time, Tim and I have a relationship where we share a lot of info and Andy and I are now doing that a lot more,” he said.

With the teams at opposite ends of the spectrum - one having achieved success, while the other heavily rebuilding after many of its Olympic core moved on - Bowen has a broad brief in the objectives for the whole unit across the next few years.

“The age profile of this (women’s) group is still very young and I would anticipate at least half this squad is going to be at Tokyo,” he said.

“So I think the girls are reasonably well set up to continue to move forward and be successful.

“With the men’s, this year (has been) very much a transitional year.

“I think what it shows is that we’re starting to get the programs up in identifying the right people for Sevens and giving them the opportunities to play on the world stage and compete pretty well.”

When asked about the next phase in his own life he replies without hesitation.

“I want us to both win medals at Tokyo," he said.

The satisfaction gained from enabling continual achievement through the development of young players shines through when Bowen discusses the busy agenda of the upcoming three years.

“We have some big things on the agenda – obviously Commonwealth Games, the World Cup in San Francisco and the launch of the universities competition,” he said.

“The ultimate goal (is) to get more funding through the government through sport - it’s all linked to performance and end results.”


Reflecting this dedication to his role, Scott Bowen acknowledges that while his first Wallabies Test will always be a personal career highlight, his most rewarding one is the success of the Aussie Sevens Women in Rio.

“I think certainly the girls winning Rio is probably the most rewarding, satisfying thing over a period of time because of the effort and energy that went into it,” he said.

 

One of the great nights!!

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While none will forget the Olympic final last year in Rio which saw history made as the Aussie Sevens women won the inaugural gold medal for their sport, Scott Bowen points out it was the culmination of years of planning, hard work and ultimately everything just falling into place.

“For four years, with that as the sole goal with what Walshy had planned along the way around developing the team culture and the way we went about our preparation – everything just worked – and that’s very rare.”

“I know in the next four years it’s not going to be as smooth as that (but) because a lot of them had made significant sacrifices and commitment, being a part of helping them achieve that was so rewarding.”

 

2016 has been a roller coaster thus far let's hope the Sharkies get a bit of luck from above

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