Women’s rugby on the rise

Broulee became a rugby haven on Saturday, as more than 150 players converged on Captain Oldrey Park for the first round of the Next Generation Super 7s.

Fourteen teams competed in the event, which was split into U14s, U16s, and Open Women’s divisions.

Eurobodalla sides did extremely well at the competition, as Narooma and Batemans Bay finished first and second in the U14s division. Narooma also placed third in U16s.

A couple of years ago we noticed, especially down here on the South Coast, the girls were really showing interest in rugby, especially 7s.

Damien Tyson

The Viqueens, a side based in Tuggeranong in Canberra, went undefeated to win the open women’s division.

Brumbies’ Senior Rugby Development Officer Damien Tyson was pleased with the growth in the competition.

“We started a couple of years ago where it was just Spring 7s and we did it out of Canberra,” said Tyson.

“Last year we put a bit of an IRB (International Rugby Board) sting on it and thought we’d take it around to all our regions.

“A couple of years ago we noticed, especially down here on the South Coast, the girls were really showing interest in rugby, especially 7s.”

23 teams have entered the competition, which will have weekends in Goulburn and Tumut before finals are held in Wagga Wagga.

Tyson said these numbers were only possible thanks to the continued growth of women’s rugby.

It’s only going to continue to grow. There’s negative talk out there about our growth, but from where I sit and the job I do, our growth is fine.

Damien Tyson

“It’s been huge ever since the (Olympic) gold medal, but it was brewing two years prior to that,” he said.

“It’s only going to continue to grow. There’s negative talk out there about our growth, but from where I sit and the job I do, our growth is fine.

“In the South Coast we’ve seen growth of seven per cent this year in participation.”

And Tyson has big plans for the competition. His goal is to build the competition up to about 40 teams while keeping the four weekend format that is currently in place.

“Next year we’re creating an U18s program,” he said. “This year’s U16s will move into that division, and we’ll continue running both the U16s and U14s.

"In the next couple of years we’re planning to add a youth boys division, and then down the track we’ll include open men.

“The idea is that it becomes one of those tournaments where it’s not just Canberra and South Coast people participating. We’d love to get Sydney teams, as well as teams from Victoria, involved.”

And Tyson believes he can pinpoint the reason why rugby is growing so fast.

“I think it’s the camaraderie you have with your team, supporters and families,” he said.

“Even though it’s competitive, everyone really enjoys themselves.”