Schoolgirls rise to the Sevens challenge

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By Community Rugby

Women’s Sevens is the new black. World Cup, world titles and world travel, not to mention the prospect of an Olympic medal, has everyone excited.

With Rugby Sevens debuting in the 2016 Olympic Games, it has seen a surge in popularity, and the focus is on building a development squad fit to play on the world stage in Rio and beyond. It is fast becoming one of the games of choice for aspiring female athletes of various ages, and the opportunity to be involved starts here.
Across Australia, the state unions are launching their Schoolgirls Representative Programs for 2013. The Sevens Pathway to Gold seeks to provide access and training to all schoolgirl players, with development staff conducting tournaments, Come & Try events, and Discovery Days over the course of 2013.
From these events, staff will identify regional and metropolitan players for inclusion in the state representative under 18s squad for camps held in Term 3, as well as girls for under 16s Development Squads.
Damien Tyson, Northern Territory Rugby Union’s Rugby Manager, runs the NT schoolgirl program. “The introduction of the Schoolgirl Nationals has provided NT schoolgirls a clear pathway to access national levels and give the girls clear visibility on what it takes to reach the top.
“The number of schoolgirls taking up the sport is growing year on year and the road to Rio in 2016 will only enhance the numbers and quality of participants for years to come,” he added.
Sevens has seen an influx of girls from other sporting codes, including touch football and athletics, with an Olympic medal, international travel and World Cup appearance the real draw cards. As a result of last year’s Schoolgirl Sevens program, several girls received sports scholarships from their State Academy or Institute of Sport, while others went onto to be selected to represent Australia at the Youth Olympics.
The National Schoolgirls Sevens Championships 2013 will again be played in October at the Gold Coast as part of the IRB World Sevens Series, and all states will be represented by sides selected from training camps held throughout the year.
Sydney high school student and Australian Oztag player Brooke Anderson played in last year’s tournament and hasn’t stopped since.
Playing at the National Championships paved the way for inclusion into Australia’s Youth Olympic team which won gold at the 2013 Youth Olympic Festival. Along with NSW, Oztag and Youth Olympic teammate and fellow schoolgirl, Tiana Penitani, she was subsequently invited to train with the Australian Sevens squad.
Brooke became the youngest ever representative of an Australian Rugby team when she made her debut in Hong Kong at 17 years and 48 days in March this year. Since then both she and Tiana have played in the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in China, and now, recently returned from an invitational tournament in London, have their sights firmly set on Rio.
Says Brooke of the achievements, “Sevens has given me the opportunity to travel the world and meet some great people. It shows that it’s always worth giving something a go – you never know where it might take you!”
For interested players and participants, please contact your local state union.


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