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Athlete Development Program Provides Path to 7s Success

Rugby 7s is the hottest game in town following Australia’s gold medal success at the Rio Olympics, and Victorian Rugby Union’s Athlete Development Program is helping introduce 7s to the stars of the future.

The Athlete Development Program is the Victorian Rugby Union’s female 7s program, and is based around recruiting non-rugby playing athletes and existing rugby players to the game of rugby 7s.

“The program was developed to introduce new female athletes to rugby 7s. It builds on basic core rugby skills, game awareness and fitness in terms of strength and power,” said VRU Female Game Development Officer Samantha Homewood.

“It also creates an opportunity to go to state level, and from there, to look towards going to the Olympics. Its goal is to create a clear pathway for the girls all the way up to the Olympic level.”

In addition to the potential of Olympic glory, participants will get to experience the exciting, fast-paced game of rugby sevens and receive elite-level coaching along the way, said Homewood.

“Sevens is fun. It’s fast-paced and it’s something different to other sports. It’s seven-a-side, played on big field and there’s lots of opportunities to get involved. It’s something fun that athletes can try and it’s something new.

“We offer two field training sessions a week and also a gym session on Saturday, which is all provided free and delivered by elite coaches.”

The program currently has 30 youth girls and 20 senior women training together, and every week there is a steady growth in numbers and player ability.

One of those players is Maggie Lind, a former netball player who has made the switch to rugby 7s.

“I started training with the development program about a year ago. I was a bit over netball at the time so I thought I’d give it a go,” said Lind.

“I really enjoy the skill compartments of it, you learn something different every week and the coaches are really encouraging, they teach you at a pace that’s right for everyone. The girls are really great. You meet a lot of really great people there and it’s just a really good environment to train in.”

For Lind, the ultimate goal is to represent Australia at the Olympics, an aim that she thinks should be shared by many following Australia’s gold medal performance.

“The win in Rio for the girls was absolutely incredible and any young girls that are playing a different sport would be interesting in playing rugby sevens now. There’s not that many girls involved. You strive to make it to that level and making the Olympics would definitely be the ultimate goal.”

As for Lind’s advice for anyone thinking about getting involved in the program.

“Just have a go. If you get involved in a program such as the Athlete Development Program, just give it all you’ve got, give it time and at the end of the day have fun!”

For more information on the Athlete Development Program please contact program manager Samantha Homewood: samantha.homewood@melbournerebels.com.au

Story by James Wong