Women driven by national carrot

Leesa Hamilton
by Leesa Hamilton

Louise Burrows first trained with the Wallaroos in 1998 and she has seen first hand how much has changed in the 18 years since.

The return of the annual Women’s National XVs Championships and Buildcorp’s sponsorship of the tournament have strengthened the sport and have made 2016 a landmark year for women's rugby.

Burrows said the stability of the format, which had been in flux in recent years, gave a solid carrot for women to aspire for.

“Having the Nationals locked in really motivates girls, as they can aspire to represent their state and potentially represent the Wallaroos,”  she said.

“Before 2015, not knowing if there was going to be a National Championship each year was a bit disheartening and players would lose interest, leave and maybe play other sports."Louise Burrows (right) first represented the Wallaroos in 1998. Photo: ARU Media“To play for your state does require a lot of hard work and time away from loved ones, but knowing that there’s the National Championships and two Wallaroos Tests coming up gives the girls the excitement and motivation to be part of something bigger.”

Competition for national spots is heating up as well, with more recognition of women’s rugby in sevens and XVs.

“With women’s sevens now in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, more girls have started playing rugby,” she said.

“We’ve also started attracting a lot of girls from touch and OzTag.

“And after the success of last year when we made the final and were runners-up, more girls in the region are recognising that the Brumbies have a great women’s program and they want to be a part of it.”

Burrows said her youthful Brumbies, with an average age of 22, could challenge more than outsiders might expect.

“I don’t think people tend to look at us as a potential threat to take out the National Championship. Sydney and Queensland have always been the strong sides,” she said.

“The ability to be a bit of a surprise package is something we will embrace this weekend.

“We want to show people we’ve got a lot of talent mixed with experience, which will be a powerful combination.

“We’ve never won a National Championship, and it’s definitely what we’re aiming for.”

The 2016 Buildcorp Women's National XVs Championship will return to Sydney this weekend at St Ignatius College Riverview, over three days from Friday 24 June to Sunday 26 June. Head to aru.com.au for information