Former gymnast leading new frontier for West Australian Uni 7s players

Uni 7s
by Emma Greenwood

She's the former gymnast turned rugby sevens player who has fallen in love with the game to become a pioneer for players from the West.

Ayisha Wigley was a key member of the UWA team that played its inaugural Aon Uni 7s tournament at the University of Queensland last weekend.

And while the players from the West finished in 10th spot with just one win over the two days of competition, little could blunt their enthusiasm.

Ayisha Wigley is tackled by an opponent at the UQ round of the Uni 7s in Brisbane last week. Photo: Karen Watson

"It's been really exciting and it's been a really good learning experience," Wigley said.

"Quite a few of us girls have not really got to experience a competition like this in WA, so it's really good for us just to get a good hit-out and see where we're at compared to the rest of Australia.

"The (rest of the) girls are really, really good, so we're going to step up our game for the next couple of rounds and we're all really excited for the years to come."

While they remain a work in progress, UWA did notch a win in their first match at the UQ tournament, with Wigley crossing for a try in their 17-12 victory over the University of Canberra.

 Wigley (far left, bottom row) making her Aon Uni 7s debut with the UWA side at St Lucia. Photo: Karen Watson

Crossing paths with some of the best players in the world, including Australia's Rio Olympic gold medallists, was exciting for Wigley, who said she "fell into" sevens after playing casual touch footy.

"I just got into it and fell in love with it," she said.

"I've only really played sevens. I started my first season of XVs this year but I did gymnastics before that, so it's a bit of a random swap, gymnastics into rugby, but I'm really enjoying it and keen to keep it going as well."

The young UWA team is a tight group including women who have played together at youth level and has been training for almost eight months ahead of their injection into the Uni 7s competition this year.

Rio Olympic gold medalist Emma Tonegato is helping guide the young UWA side. Photo: Karen Watson

One of the driving forces for their improvement this season will be their allocated Australian players Dom Du Toit and Rio Olympics gold medalist Emma Tonegato.

Wigley said the experienced Tonegato had been a massive help to UWA in their first tournament.

"She's been amazing. Her communication on the field is so good and it's amazing to play against someone who's up there and playing for the Aussies and who's got the experience," she said.

 

"To (share) it with all us young girls coming through (is great)."

Round 2 of the Aon Uni 7s will be held at Bond University on the Gold Coast from September 28-29.