WHAT started as a fun introduction to a new sport has turned into possible NSW team selection for Berry’s Harriet Elleman.
Coming from a touch football background, the Charles Sturt University student had only watched rugby union played on television.
But after she and her agriculture college friends decided to start the first women’s sevens tournament in Wagga Wagga, which will begin this year, she realised she could take her involvement in the sport to new heights.
The 19 year-old is now well on her way to making the NSW women’s rugby sevens team.
Elleman, who plays prop, has been selected in the NSW training squad, with team selections to be made later this year.
It has only recently been announced that rugby sevens will be included at the 2016 Summer Olympic games, which has seen a spike in women trying the sport.
“I used to watch it (rugby union) on television. That’s about it,” laughed Elleman.
Elleman is studying animal science at Charles Sturt University’s Wagga Wagga campus, with hopes to transfer to veterinary science.
She decided to give the sport a go after joining the Wagga Wagga Agricultural College women’s sevens side.
From this, it was announced that a women’s rugby sevens competition would start in Wagga Wagga this year, a first for the area.
“I decided that with my touch background it might be interesting and fun to play,” she said.
“They are a wonderful group of girls and I have made lots of new friends. Most of us are studying the same degree so we are together all the time.”
Through her involvement in her agriculture college team, Elleman decided to apply for selection in the NSW and Australian rugby sevens team last October.
“I saw an advertisement in the gym at uni for women’s rugby sevens trials, so thought I might apply,” she said.
In the middle of her end of year exams, Elleman made the trek to Sydney to trial for the team, which included gruelling fitness and skill testing.
She was then selected, along with about 50 women, to be on the NSW training squad, which works with some of Australia’s best coaches once a week in Sydney.
“It was hard to start with because I was working at the same time and it was a level up from what I have been playing,” said Elleman.
“But I have learnt so much and have gained a lot of experience.”
From her NSW training squad, Elleman joined the North Sydney Redbacks, which has been playing in women’s sevens competitions held over the last couple of weeks, including the Kiama Rugby Sevens Tournament held last weekend, where her team narrowly missed out on the grand final.
“I love the girls on the team and the support we have for each other. It is a real thrill to be playing together and see how successful we are, because we are getting better,” she said.
The NSW selectors will then pick two NSW sides from watching the games from the Queanbeyan, Kiama and the Warringah tournaments.
Elleman said she was lucky to have trained with the NSW and Australian coaches.
“I am very proud of how high my fitness levels are now, as well as my skills,” she said.
She hopes to one day be selected for the NSW, Commonwealth and Australian teams.
“I am constantly improving. I guess I have to just keep playing and see how I go. It’s just a matter of time,” she said.
Elleman said that she was not sure what gave her the edge over the other girls.
“Lots of girls can run. But it is interesting to see the different girls from different backgrounds of oztag, touch and rugby league,” she said.
Elleman said that with the
sevens tournaments wrapping-up, she would continue to train fortnightly with the Redbacks, as well as play a few exposition games throughout the winter before a full sevens season starts again in September.