Kick start in the downs

Most peo­ple strug­gle to do just about any­thing with a bro­ken an­kle, but Ce­cil Plains’ Sarah Pearce con­tin­ued to lead a women’s rugby sev­ens team

Style Magazine - - Feature - BY RORY ILIC To see the full draw your­self go to www.dal­byrug­byu­

There has been a lot of ef­fort to get ready and it will take a sub­stan­tial amount of time to be as fit as I was be­fore it hap­pened. SARAH PEARCE

From a young age, she has been a die-hard Wal­la­bies fan. How­ever, when asked if she pre­vi­ously saw fe­male rugby as a pos­si­bil­ity in the Dalby re­gion she said ab­so­lutely not — it just wasn’t avail­able. After the tri­umph of the Aus­tralian women’s rugby sev­ens team in the Rio Olympics, Sarah Pearce of Ce­cil Plains re­alised this was an op­por­tu­nity in the re­gion and formed the Dalby Wheatchix — an off­shoot of the men’s Dalby Wheat­men rugby union team. The Wheatchix are not alone: Goondi­windi Emus, Toowoomba Bears, Con­damine Codettes and the War­wick Wa­ter Rats have also been in­spired by the medal-win­ning team and this year joined the UQ Gat­ton and USQ Saints teams in a Downs com­pe­ti­tion. At the Wheatchix’ first train­ing ses­sion only six women at­tended. How­ever, as word be­gan to spread the num­bers grad­u­ally in­creased. Sarah poached four girls from the AFL Dar­ling Downs com­pe­ti­tion and sev­eral more from touch foot­ball — her­self in­cluded, as she grew up play­ing touch while board­ing at Fairholme Col­lege. As the pre-sea­son con­tin­ued so did the train­ing, re­quir­ing a twice-a-week com­mit­ment in Dalby. Four months on from the first train­ing ses­sion, the Wheatchix de­cided it was time for their en­trance into the com­pe­ti­tion. Un­for­tu­nately some prob­lems struck, as cap­tain and founder Sarah broke her leg in the first match, re­strict­ing her from on-field in­volve­ment. Look­ing back on the in­jury, Sarah de­scribed it as truly dis­ap­point­ing. Sarah says the Wheatchix team had a lot of de­vel­op­ing to do from the out­set, but is in­cred­i­bly proud of her team’s progress. "Our sec­ond ma­jor car­ni­val has re­ally shown that to have hap­pened," she says. Play­ing against more ex­pe­ri­enced teams, the Wheatchix re­ceived a bap­tism of fire into the sport with their en­counter against Con­damine as their first pre-sea­son vic­tory. The Wheatchix fi­nally tasted vic­tory against the Con­damine Codettes in round one of friendly fixtures, played at Con­damine on March 25, where the Wheatchix also picked up sev­eral spon­sor­ships of­fers. “Ev­ery­one wants to get on board, the in­volve­ment in this club isn’t limited to play­ers,” Sarah says. Sarah is look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing to her peak level of fit­ness as well as help­ing the young up-and-com­ers in the club. “It’s nice they’re get­ting the op­por­tu­nity and this is the per­fect start­ing point for these girls.” Due to the grow­ing suc­cess of the se­nior com­pe­ti­tion, the Dalby Rugby Union Club held a come and try day and suc­cess­fully fielded a ju­nior women’s team. Coach Rick Stone is an in­stru­men­tal part of the team, teach­ing them ev­ery­thing they need to know about plays, the game and team­work. In Sarah’s and the club’s per­spec­tives the day showed the in­ter­est was there, even from women who’d never played. The come and try day also was suc­cess­ful in fill­ing a com­plete un­der 15s team and scouting an­other player for the se­nior women’s team. Watch­ing these women form­ing their plays, cheer­ing each other on and at half time mak­ing sure their chil­dren in the spec­ta­tors camp are drink­ing plenty of wa­ter, it’s easy to see the great cul­ture that has sprung up around the Wheatchix. “To wear the Wheatchix jersey has to be some­thing to be proud of, we are pi­o­neer­ing a path that hope­fully many girls will walk down,” Sarah says.

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