Super W: From Snowy Mountains to capital country for Brown

Super W
by Jill Scanlon

Kate Brown is a 27-year-old mechanic who lives and works in Jindabyne where the snowfields are her playground, but her sporting reality is two hours north, in Canberra.

She was a sporty kid and growing up with three older brothers in Scone, in the Hunter Valley instilled her with a competitive streak for whatever sport she turned her hand to.

She dabbled in soccer and rugby but turned her attention to hockey in high school when rugby seemed like it was no longer an option.

With a love of the outdoors, Brown took a shine to colder climes, setting off to explore the snowfields of the world once she finished school.

“I was a ski bum and travelled around to Canada and that - I didn’t play any sport for about five years,” she said.

Kate Brown has embraced the chance to play for the Brumbies women. Photo: WalmsleyOn her return she settled on the doorstep of the Kosciuszko National Park in Jindabyne.

“That’s where I started playing rugby again. There was a local girls’ team and I was just trying to make some friends and meet people, so it was a good way to settle in," she said.

Brown says she enjoys the support of her family despite their very definite bent towards the ‘other’ rugby code.

“My dad was always massively into league and my brothers follow league a bit more, but they love watching rugby now too," she said.

The local women’s team did not survive more than a few years and Brown had to look to the ‘big smoke’ if she wanted to continue playing, travelling to Canberra to pursue her rugby dream, ultimately earning a surprise Women's Rugby World Cup call-up in 2017.

“Actually, getting the call-up was a bit of a surprise as I’d always really been on the fringe of the team. So, it had been a massive goal but the call was a bit of a shock at the time.”

Now riding this new wave of momentum for women’s rugby, many of the barriers of the past have diminished for Brown and her teammates.

“It’s exciting to see where it’s going to end up,” she said.

“I started playing five years ago when we were selling raffle tickets and washing windscreens at the traffic lights so we could afford to go to the nationals.”

The growth of the game is pleasing for Brown as she can see the flow-on effect even in her neck of the woods.

“Jindabyne now has two junior girls teams and for a small town, where in summer there is about 3500 people, to have two teams and that they’re going to have something to aim for and to keep playing for is just exciting to see where it’s going and what the next couple of years have to offer," she said.

“Some of the young girls here are now hanging around the club on Thursday nights -  I can see that they’re listening and that there is going to be a team for them to aim to get into and to train for and a pathway for them.”

Brown is grateful that her job enables her to pursue her rugby path and her surrounds allow her to enjoy her other outdoor passions.

“I’m a mechanic by trade and so I’m lucky I have a good boss and I get time off to go up to Canberra for training," she said.

“The workshop is pretty small and we’re pretty close knit but I do cop it a bit from the boys I work with about how much time I have off.

“But they have a laugh about it and don’t really mind.”

Brown also acknowledges the impact as a role model Australian Sevens and XVs veteran Sharni Williams has had, coming from a similar background and leading the way for women in her industry.

Brown admits to going a bit “stir crazy” if she’s indoors too much, loving instead to explore the surrounds in which she is lucky enough to live.

“I get a bit stir crazy inside so I try to stay outside as much as I can," she said.

“When I’m not driving to Canberra for training or working, I do quite a bit of mountain biking, bushwalking and camping which is pretty cool.”

When the temperature drops though, Brown still makes her way to the slopes on her day off – and she’s often not alone.

“Sunday is my ski day – so I still get a few days in each year,” she said.

“A lot of my rugby mates come down and ski with us on Sundays after we’ve played on Saturday. We’re all pretty battered and bruised but it’s good for loosening up the body and getting out for some fresh air.”

Following last year’s surprise call-up, Brown is keen to have another taste at the international level and is pleased there will now be more Test opportunities for the Wallaroos.

“That’s my goal and it’s cool there are going to be Tests in Australia and New Zealand, playing in front of friends and family at home would be such an amazing experience.”

NSW and Queensland will compete for the Super W title on Friday at Sydney's Allianz Stadium kicking off at 4:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.