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Present and future set the scene for Rugby 7s

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor
The Catholic Weekly sources a wide range of both professional and non-professional writers and commentators to contribute articles to its Newspaper.
The art of tackling: students practice tackling skills during a session at the Elite Rugby 7s Academy Camp. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Sydney Catholic Schools’ invite-only academy start 2023 off on the right boot for students

RUGBY 7s SCS Elite Rugby 7s Academy Camp

By Tasmyn Haynes

It all started with a game of soccer. One kid picked up the ball and ran off while the other players tried to tackle him to get it back. Fast forward to Olympic medals, sporting careers, and elite camps, the game and future of Rugby 7s is too enticing for these Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) athletes to pass up.

Returning after a successful launch in 2022, the SCS Elite Rugby 7s Academy Camp invited 45 students to Rugby NSW Headquarters in order to train, compete, and be coached at a top level.

The two day camp consisted of fitness testing, skills and drills, pathway lectures, and game play. With the Waratahs squad training on the neighbouring field, the Academy Camp caught the eye of Head Coach, Darren Coleman.

“I think this is a great initiative from Sydney Catholic Schools. Rugby 7s is a really good entry point into the sport for some of these kids” he said.

“Once they come into an environment like this and they get to witness and experience rugby, we hope that they’ll want to progress and pursue it further.”

King Kwabena Boateng Karikari, a Year 9 student from St Anthony of Padua Austral, made the switch from Soccer after being recognised as one of the states fastest 100m sprinters.

“I’m the first person to ever be chosen to attend this Academy from my school, I was pretty excited” said King.

“ONCE THEY COME INTO AN ENVIRONMENT LIKE THIS AND THEY GET TO WITNESS AND EXPERIENCE RUGBY, WE HOPE THEY’LL WANT TO PROGRESS AND PURSUE IT FURTHER”

But rugby isn’t just for the men, the widespread rise of female players promises equal pathways for all athletes.

Sophie Hickey, currently entering Year 7 at Santa Sabina College Strathfield, wowed the coaches with her spectacular athleticism and skill despite never having dabbled in the sport.

“My dad is really into rugby and we watch a lot of his old videos. I never stop hearing about it. He taught me some of the basics so I thought I would come today and give it a crack” she said.

Although this year’s camp invited a smaller number of students in comparison to 2022, it’s all about quality, not quantity. Girl’s and Women’s Development Officer at Rugby NSW, Brittany Merlo, commented on the benefits of one-on-one training and some fine-tuning of the program.

“You get to know the kids a bit better, their stories, and where they want to take their rugby.”

“We’ve simplified the testing component to allow the kids more time to recover and get more skill work in. In rugby, it’s more important if you can execute a skill rather than get a good fitness time” said Brittany.

With the added bonus of some Waratah players stepping onto the field to help coach, the SCS Elite Rugby 7s Academy Camp saw students play their hearts out, fuelled by the thought of one day playing professionally.

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