Aussie Sevens royalty raising funds for our farmers

International
by Emma Greenwood

She's an Olympic gold medalist, has more than 100,000 followers on social media and having returned to full fitness, is pushing toward a title defence at the Tokyo Games next year.

He's the Aussie sevens captain working flatout to ensure the men qualify for next year's Olympics, where he'll notch up a second Games campaign.

But for Charlotte Caslick and Lewis Holland rugby is more than just a job and a passion.

Partners off the field, the couple often referred to as the king and queen of Australian rugby, are using the sport and their profile as a vehicle to highlight the plight of those on the land.

Olympic sevens gold medalist Charlotte Caslick and partner Lewis Holland have teamed up with Ringers Western to raise funds for Drought Angels. Photo: Supplied 

Holland and Caslick have linked with country outfitters Ringers Western to raise funds for Drought Angels, with the couple recently hitting $50,000 from the sale of the melon work shirt.

Like most, Holland and Caslick have felt desperately for farmers suffering from drought, flood and fire. And their empathy comes from experience.

Holland comes from a cattle farming background, while several members of Caslick's extended family are farmers, while the young couple has their own property at drought-ravaged Stanthorpe.

"We've been in a  drought for the last 12 months, we're out of dam water, we've sunk a bore just after the end of the season in our holidays and we were lucky enough to get water," Holland said.

"We just bought a truckload of hay and half a truckload of cotton seeds so our cattle get fed now up until Christmas  because they're calving and they'll be on a fulltime feed ration to make sure they calve down and keep weight."

 

But like many on the land, the pair will soon be forced to make tough decisions if there is no rain.

"We'll make a decision around Christmas time, what's the best to do there (depending on) whether we get any rain or not, or move the cattle on and just wait for it to rain," Holland said.

With aunts and uncles who have either been forced off the land or will be unable to plant crops this year because of drought, Caslick said the effects of the drought hit close to home.

"Since we've bought our own place as well, you start to appreciate that playing rugby for a living is not so hard and there's people going through things that are a lot bigger than losing a grand final," she said.

"It really makes you understand the real pressures of life. Nothing compares to waiting for rain."

charlotte Caslick in full flight on the field. Photo: Getty Images 

While their melon workshirt collaboration with Ringers Western has just hit the $50,000 mark for Drought Angels, it's not the pair's first fundraising effort.

A cap Ringers Western cap raised $20,000, while the pair also started Fencing for Farmers, partnering with BlazeAid and Drought Angels to help replace fences destroyed by natural disasters for those who could least afford repairs themselves.

"Charlotte and I started Fencing for Farmers back when the droughts went through northwest Queensland, just to raise a little bit of awareness and obviously some funds to help those guys and support those guys through a bit of a hard time up there - they went through and drought and also a flood, so they got the worst of both worlds at once," Holland said.

"Then going on from that, the drought that's going on at the moment on the East Coast, with my family down south and our little farm up north, a lot of families that you meet are all going through that.

"So we linked with Ringers Western and those guys were kind enough to jump on board and release a hat with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to Drought Angels, with the money distributed back into the local community to be spent there so that money stays within the towns.

You probably know that rural issues are close to our hearts. The devastation caused by the flooding in north west Queensland was heartbreaking. The loss of livestock and damage to infrastructure is something that will take some of the graziers many years to recover from. Others may never recover, but we need to make every effort to help them get back on their feet. We’ve been looking for a tangible way to help and found BlazeAid. BlazeAid is a charitable organisation that delivers 100% of donations to the intended recipients and backs that up with volunteer labour on the ground where it’s needed. They’ve told us that about 8000 kilometres of fencing needs to be repaired or replaced. The materials in each kilometre of fencing costs $1200. We want to help our farmers replace 500 kilometres of that fencing. We need your help. The communities of north west Queensland need your help. Our target is to raise $600,000 for this project. Link in bio to donate. www.fencingforfarmers.com

A post shared by Charlotte Caslick (@charlottecaslick) on

 

"We're just trying to raise a bit of awareness and some funds and just help those guys do it a little bit easier because it is getting pretty tough out there and the forecast for this summer doesn’t look like it's going to ease up."

Caslick said she and Holland enjoyed giving back as much as they could.

"We've tried to support all of those causes as much as possible and use my profile to raise awareness," she said.

"Being in Sydney there's people that have no idea what people are going through out in the bush and they don't have an understanding or awareness.

"So having quite a big following (on social media), I'm just trying to use it to promote something that I'm passionate about and raise a bit of awareness."

Rural issues are close to the hearts of Charlotte Caslick and Lewis Holland. Photo: Getty Images

Rugby Australia has also been doing its bit for the drought, linking with charity Rural Aid to raise funds through a dedicated Rural Aid NRC round, with funds raised matched dollar for dollar by RA.

"It's awesome," Holland said of RA becoming involved.

"It's not very highly populated (out west), so there's a lot of blokes out there doing it tough on their own and you speak to them and they're always willing to give you a hand regardless of their own situation.

"They're a tough bunch of bastards. A lot of the blokes that play rugby union are country fellas as well, so it's good that we can tie in sport.

"If it gets a few blokes off the farm just to come down a watch a game of footy or something like that, just to take their minds off and give them and afternoon where they can watch something or catch up with mates or whatever it is, I think it all ties in and will help someone in a big way."

Lewis Holland in action at the Sydney Sevens. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley 

Caslick said the tie-in was fitting, given the parallels between farming communities and rugby networks.

"In a way, it's similar to rugby, the farming community all comes together and everyone in the town is so lively and so supportive and we all help each other out and I guess that's where we can draw the parallels between the two."