Thursday, 20 Sep 2018

Girls Rugby Sevens is now a thriving part of the comprehensive WestMAC sports program thanks to Year 8 student Ebany Dixon.

Ebany said she was inspired to ask for the sport to be included after watching Australia’s Charlotte Caslick play in the finals of the Commonwealth Games against New Zealand.

“I’d love to be able to play like her. Watching the Australian team inspired me to ask Mr O’Connell to put a team together,” she said.

A group of 21 girls from Years 7, 8 and 9 eagerly began training for Rugby Sevens games in Term 2.

Shortly after, WestMAC hosted the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) Women’s Sevens for an inclusive Master Class training session at the College. Representatives from the QAS and the Queensland Reds worked with the girls on core-skills, gameplay and fitness.

Most of the players from QAS range in ages from 18 to 24 years and play Sevens in addition to study and work commitments. They are hoping for Australian selection and a contract on the World Series Sevens Circuit. Thanks go to Lachlan Parkinson, QAS High Performance Sevens, and the players for visiting WestMAC.

In Week 7 of Term 3, WestMAC hosted a second Masterclass Class, this time with the University of Queensland AON Sevens Women’s Squad.

The girls were privileged to have Mackenzie Sadler and Erica Fowler as mentors and coaches for the session. Thanks to Reg Tayler and the AON Sevens Squad for their time and guidance.

Thanks must also go to Mrs Jen Gibb and Ms Caterina Hambling who assisted on the UQ and Ballymore trips.

“I hope more opportunities to participate in workshops with the Reds come up so I can meet more women players and improve my skills,” said Ebany.

The Master Class training was put to the test when the College competed in the SEQ Schoolgirls Sevens Tournament U15 Division.

They won the first game against Mt Alvernia College with Ebany entering the history books as the first try scorer for the College in Girls Sevens. After a fast-paced game, the score finished 19-all, with WestMAC claiming the win.

“It was everyone’s first-ever game, so it was nice that our training paid off,” Ebany said.

Year 9 Gracie Albion said the first game was “nerve racking, exhilarating and exciting”.

“It was challenging at times but the camaraderie of my teammates made the day so much fun,” she said.

The second game was a testing encounter against Brisbane State High School, a renowned powerhouse in Girls Sevens. State High got off to a quick start putting on three quick tries but WestMAC powered back late in the first half and early in the second to finish the game strong, only going down 25-15.

The third and final game was a courageous loss to Mt Alvernia College, 24-12, fighting fatigue after a long day.

The girls are now training hard for their next tournament at the Queensland All Schools Sevens on October 27 and 28 at Ballymore.

“I’d like to keep playing for my school and hope it becomes a TAS sport,” said Ebany.

Ben O’Connell, Director of Rugby at WestMAC, said Sevens is a dynamic and fast-paced version of Rugby Union with only seven players from each team allowed on a full sized Rugby pitch with seven-minute halves.

“This form of the game is now an Olympic pathway sport for both men and women and it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.

“It is incredibly intense in terms of speed and fitness, with individual rugby core skills very important because with fewer players on the field, there is nowhere for players to hide.

“The girls have been training each week on skills such as rucking, mauling, tackling, scrums and lineouts.”

The WestMAC Girls Sevens Program is generously supported by local businesses Belix Constructions, Remax Ignite and Storage King Ipswich.

“Their support has allowed us to purchase new uniforms and equipment specifically for the Sevens program,” Mr O’Connell said.

“Without their support, opportunities such as these are not as attainable.”

Gracie thanked the motivated WestMAC staff for introducing Rugby 7s to the sports program.

“It has created a lot of interest and excitement for all my friends,” she said.