Braidwood will have its first women’s rugby team — the Braidwood Black Widows — to compete in the Brumbies Super 7s Series tournament in September–October 2016.
The tournament is part of the ACT Brumbies Community development program and it comes after the gold-winning performance of the Australian Women’s Sevens rugby team in Rio de Janeiro.
Under the guidance of Damien Tyson, ACT Brumbies senior development officer, the women have participated in first-class, expert training and developmental clinics.
“To see Braidwood’s first female team, I think it’s really great and that’s the sort of effect we’d like to see with our rugby development programs.
“We’ve got a few former netballers, some from touch footy and a couple who just gave birth as well,” Mr Tyson said.
The clinics include theory and practical activities related to the technical aspects and the laws governing the game to provide the players with an all-round understanding.
Hayley Quill, first-time player and physical education teacher at Central School, said she has never played before.
“It’s always been just touch and oz tag, so I’m scared and excited at the same time to play a physical sport,” she said.
Ms Quill said the development clinics at the Brumbies “have been excellent”.
“They’ve been really informative and helped me learn the game and the team’s preparations.
“We’ve also had great support from the local community as well, who’s been vocal about us being the first female team,” she said.
Caretaker coach George Sherif will also be leading a female team for the first time.
“I’ve coached kids rugby before, as well as the Redbacks many years ago, so this is something exciting not just for the girls but also me.
“The girls are really enthusiastic because there’s not a lot on offer in Braidwood for women’s sport,” he said.
He also said the assistance from the ACT Brumbies has fast-tracked the players’ knowledge about the game.
“None of these girls played rugby before — a few have played touch and oz tag and that’s about it, so they’re on a steep learning curve,” he said.
Asked about the expectations of the girls, Sherif said they’ll improve game by game.
“By end of tournament, they’ll be a much better team because of the experience.
“They’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the national women’s team,” he said.
The Super 7s Series is a four-tournament circuit in which the Braidwood series is the third.
It will be held on Saturday October 15 at the Braidwood Recreation Ground.
The other series of the competition are spread across the region:
Damien Tyson, ACT Brumbies’ senior development officer, said each series is “a festival day of rugby”.
“We’re encouraging all clubs to compete at each tournament to win series points, which will then determine the finals day draw and ultimately the series winners,” he said.
The tournament was first conceived in 2015 as the Spring 7s Series, which ran over four weekends at the University of Canberra - the Brumbies’ HQ.
In 2016, Tyson said they wanted to expand to rural areas due to the strong presence and demand of rugby.
“When we look at program camps, especially with girls and women, the participation rates are actually coming from rural zones, like Bateman’s Bay, Harden, Yass, Braidwood and Wagga.
“In our last emerging-talent camp, we had 30 girls out of the 50 from rural places.
The Black Widows, under the auspices of the Braidwood Readbacks rugby team, will play all four series of the tournament.
Nick Pengelly, manager of the Braidwood Rugby Club, said rugby has a strong following in Braidwood.
“When the 7s series opened up, we had 14 eager women wanting to fill the starting side.
“The support from the community has been very positive, including that from Nova Systems and Braidwood Community Bank who both have come on board as sponsors,” he said.
The Braidwood Redbacks are also commencing recruitment for the 2017 South Coast Monaro competition.
Interested players should contact Nick Pengelly on 0488 519 284.
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