Australian Rugby celebrates NAIDOC Week

by staff

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) today reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people through Rugby, as Australians come together this week to mark NAIDOC Week.

Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver recommitted Australian Rugby to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities through Rugby as a part of ARU’s vision to create an inclusive Australian Rugby community.

“Australian Rugby in Partnership with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team has worked hard to bring Rugby into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities and it is a partnership we wish to expand into the future,” Mr Pulver said.

“Rugby is a global sport and the opportunities in the game in terms of international travel are extraordinary, particularly with Rugby now a part of the Olympic Games.

“Our Sevens program is completely professional with our Qantas Men’s and Women’s teams being paid athletes, highlighting an excellent avenue for talented Indigenous players to take part in our game.”

For the past nine months, Australian Rugby has been running an Indigenous Women’s Sevens program that has seen more than 500 girls and women take part in Rugby Sevens related activities.

The ARU’s Indigenous Participation Coordinator, Jordan Goddard has also run events to promote Rugby in Sydney, Brisbane, regional NSW and Queensland, Alice Springs, Darwin and Thursday Island.

The inaugural NAIDOC Cup was held at Granville Park in Western Sydney on Tuesday 24 June. The tournament for school boys and girls was a fast paced Sevens tournament featuring teams from across New South Wales and Thursday Island. You can find out more about the NAIDOC Cup here.

Since 1992, ARU has partnered with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team (LMRDT) to deliver a substantial program that aims to enhance the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities through Rugby.

The organisation is named after Lloyd McDermott, the first player to identify as Aboriginal for the Wallabies. McDermott made his debut for the Wallabies in 1962 against New Zealand.

Since 1992, nearly 6,000 Indigenous boys and girls have taken part in LMRDT programs and events throughout Australia with teams coming from Australia’s major capital cities, the Northern Territory, regional Queensland, NSW and the Torres Strait.

A highlight of the LMRDT calendar is the Ella Sevens events. The tournament is named after the famous Ella Brothers; Gary, Glen and Mark who all played for the Wallabies.

The Ella Sevens is held in Cairns and Coffs Harbour throughout the year that provides a fast flowing Sevens competition for Indigenous teams to participate in.

The aim of this program is to provide a competitive Rugby tournament, with Rugby coaching to enhance the development of players and include messages about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and education.