Kiahan Bellchambers is a country girl at heart, with a love of animals, sport and the outdoor life.
The 19-year-old Brumby is pursuing her dream on the rugby field while staying well-grounded in her country life.
Moving around regional NSW and Queensland in early childhood, Bellchambers settled with family on a farm in Tumut where, with a love of being active, she tried any sport she could at school but netball was always her main focus.
At 17, her 12 year love affair with the court game was fading and the attraction of rugby soon filled that gap.
“Netball wasn’t really going anywhere and I wasn’t enjoying it quite the same – I loved netball but I needed something new,” Bellchambers said.“I’d always loved rugby – my brothers played and it was awesome to watch them and how they were respected for how and what they played.”
When a friend started lobbying the local club to start a Women’s 7s competition, Bellchambers knew she’d found her new passion.
“I was looking for a new sport and I didn’t really want to do soccer, then I found out about rugby and I thought – that’s perfect.”
From a large sports loving family, Bellchambers boasts that rugby has become a family affair. Her two brothers are still “rugby crazy” and her older sister has just taken up club rugby.
Her younger sister is also now a part of the Brumbies fold in their junior rugby program.
“Dad loves it and Mum’s really supportive as well. She thinks it’s a really cool opportunity for us and they’ll run us all over the countryside to help us do what we want to do.”
Bellchambers enjoyed the opportunity to run around last September in the Aon Uni7s and likes the idea that with the emerging development pathways, she can play both sevens and XVs.
“I like Sevens because it’s so chaotic. Some people don’t like that but I really enjoy it.“But I also enjoy XVs for the tactical side of it. It’s very physical but it’s also very mental so I enjoy the strategy.
“I’d love to do both for different reasons.”
She initially found the opportunities for a country girl to get involved in rugby were limited but is now pleased to see the pathways in both formats of the code are leading to the top.
“Getting into rugby was really hard because being in a rural area sometimes you have to push that extra bit and make that extra effort to go to Canberra to be involved,” Bellchambers said.
“I’m now really excited because I can see it happening and now those doors are opening.
“It’s exciting to see it being implemented and through that, girls will have the dream and be able to chase that.”
Working full-time at the Tumut Veterinary Clinic as a nurse, Bellchambers juggles her job with her online study in Vet Nursing and Personal Training as well as with her new Super W commitments.
“I have a very good employer and co-workers, (they’re) very supportive and are willing to go the extra effort to give me time when I need to leave early on certain days to go to training.”
She also trains in Tumut some of the time, supported by Brumbies S&C management and pairing up for local sessions with Brumbies teammate Michelle Perry who is also based in the small Riverina town.
With little downtime available to her, it is life on the farm which acts as the distraction for this busy teenager, riding the horses and helping out with the chores.
Bellchambers is excited by the growing awareness she is seeing for women’s rugby, especially in the country, with local clubs supporting the development of girls’ and women’s teams and competitions.
“People are more aware of it and more curious and the rugby clubs are really backing it and looking to develop that.
“There are girls who are much younger who are starting to play rugby and the skill sets are coming through, so by the time they’re my age they’re going to have the strong foundations, so it’s very exciting.”
The Brumbies Women take on the Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday, kicking off at 5pm AEDT, to be broadcast on Friday night at 10pm AEDT on FOX SPORTS 505, with a replay available on RUGBY.com.au after the conclusion of that broadcast. Anyone with a ticket for the Super Rugby match can access the Super W match from 4:45pm through Gate 7.