Fainga'a twins jump on board Canberra-Queanbeyan girls rugby program

There are currently no structured rugby union competitions available to girls like St Gregory's students Talia Da Silva, Giselle Arona, Yia Bernardino, Neeta Anthony and Anessa Nappo. Photo: Gemma Varcoe.
There are currently no structured rugby union competitions available to girls like St Gregory's students Talia Da Silva, Giselle Arona, Yia Bernardino, Neeta Anthony and Anessa Nappo. Photo: Gemma Varcoe.

The Australian women's rugby sevens team is currently second to none. Crowned champions of the 2015-2016 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, the squad's speed, talent, and football IQ has also earned them an Olympic berth, where they are expected to medal.

However, despite this international success, young female rugby players in Australia must discontinue playing union at the age of 12, with no structured competition or pathway forward.

Recognising this, local company forty2 rugby paired with Super Rugby stars and former local lads, Saia and Anthony Fainga'a, to deliver a female-focused program, Empower Rugby.

"Rugby in this region has given us so much," Saia Fainga'a said.

"It was a no brainer for us to get behind a program that gives girls a genuine chance to get involved.

"To be honest, I couldn't believe that girls aged between 12 and 17 weren't able to play and we are pleased to be in a position to fix that and help them give it a try."

forty2 rugby general manager Josh Vaughan said the program was the first of its kind in Australia and would give girls a real chance at getting involved with the game at the grassroots level.

"The thing is that girls can play in the competition up until under 12s, where they just participate in a mixed competition with the boys, but when they turn about 13, they don't have a competition anymore, so we lose a lot of girls to soccer and AFL and netball and those kinds of things," he said.

"While they can play school events, like a sevens or a tens competition, but there is no structured competition for girls.

"It's [Empower Rugby] really just a pathway for girls to get in and get involved with rugby."

The skills-based program will run for six weeks and will cater to all levels of experience. Participants will be exposed to both the classic 15-a-side form of the game, as well as the shorter format of sevens. Open to girls between the ages of 10 and 18, the program intends to be a precursor for a structured girls competition to be run by the ACT JRU.

For more information, including how to register, visit:

empowerrugby.eventbrite.com.au

Empower Rugby program timetable:

Saturday, July 23: 9am - 11am.

Saturday, July 30: 9am - 11am.

Saturday, August 6: 9am - 11am.

Saturday, August 13: 9am - 11am.

Saturday, August 20: 9am - 11am.

Saturday, August 27: 9am - 11am (end of program function and presentation).

All sessions to be held at Griffith Oval, Austin Street, Griffith, ACT.

This story Gender empowerment through rugby first appeared on The Queanbeyan Age.