In a coup for the region, the University of Newcastle’s women’s rugby 7s (NUW7s) will host the national AON UNI7s Series at the No.2 Sportsground this weekend.
And, in a further boost to the local side’s chances of success in front of a home crowd, Aussie representatives Faith Nathan and Madison Higgins are joining the line-up as they vie for championship points in the second round of the tournament.
The NUW7s squad – featuring Nathan, Higgins, Tamsin Barber, Susannah Cooke, Courtney Currie, Jess Gentle, Tahlia Goldmsith, Kaitlan Leaney, Zara Lee, Madison McArthur, Trudi Peterson, Jesse Southwell, Kayla Waldron and Ashleigh Walker – will face the University of Adelaide, University of Canberra and Sydney University in its pool.
The team proved a force to be reckoned with in its round one clashes, in its inaugural year in the event, most notably accounting for favourites Sydney University.
Now, the 14 women from throughout the Hunter and Central Coast have formed an elite squad to test themselves against the nation’s best again.
University of Newcastle’s patron for women’s rugby 7s Samantha Martin Williams said she was proud to be part of the NUW7s program, which creates pathways for female athletes and empowers youngsters to achieve triumphs in both their sporting and personal careers.
“To have some of Australia’s best women in sport play alongside the next generation of rugby 7s stars is indeed a highlight for Newcastle,” she stated.
“It’s also great recognition of the high-performance talent regional Australia continues to produce.
“As the competition among the universities continues to grow, it’s inspiring to see the pathways for these women including Olympic and Commonwealth Games representation.
“The 2021 AON UNI7s is reaching new heights this year with opportunities on and off the field for these talented women.”
NUW7s co-captain Zara Lee is confident in the side’s preparation – and looking forward to showcasing their skills at Newcastle No. 2 Sportsground.
“We showed plenty of courage last weekend, especially in the round games,” she said.
“We need to take that confidence and belief to every match [this time around], especially with welcoming the Aussie girls to our squad.
“With the tournament being at home, the girls have the extra fire in the bellies as well.
“We’re going to show the home crowd what we’re fully capable of.”
The two-day fixture, played across two regional and two national tournaments, consists of nine universities from throughout Australia.
Kicking off at 8.30am on Saturday 10 April, it includes HJRU girls’ exhibition matches, too.
Games continue on Sunday 11 April.
Tickets can be purchased via http://www.ticketebo.com.au/nuw-rugby7s/aon-national-university-women-7s.html
10.20am: NUW7s v University of Adelaide
Noon: NUW7s v University of Canberra
1.40pm: NUW7s v Sydney University