Shoalhaven duo help Illawarra claim title

STOKED: The Illawarra under 17s team celebrate after winning the recent NSW Country Championships 10s tournament..

STOKED: The Illawarra under 17s team celebrate after winning the recent NSW Country Championships 10s tournament..

SHOALHAVEN pair Aroha Spillane and Ruari von Prott appear destined for successful careers on the rugby field, after recently helping their Illawarra under 17s side win the Country Championships.

Cambewarra’s Spillane, 15, and Nowra Hill’s Von Prott, 16, were both selected into the team on the back their form during recent rugby 7s tournaments in Sydney, as well as their work with the Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS).

“The rugby 10s Country Championships was a selection for a Country NSW rugby 15s side,” Ruari’s mother Kim von Prott said.

“There were six girls teams entered from Country NSW and the Illawarra girls team consisted of the Illawarra Academy 7s team from the Academy games plus extras selected through other avenues. 

“The 7s team had won all of their games at the preceding Academy games, so they were coming into this competition on a high.

“The girls played three pool games on Saturday and one pool game on Sunday – winning all of their pool games quite convincingly only conceding one try for the whole competition.

“As they were overall winners of the pool games, the girls went straight through to the grand final against Central North, which they won 25-nil.”

On the back of their dominant display at the Country Championships, Ruari von Prott was one of 10 Illawarra girls named in the Country NSW girls under 17s team – which rewards her for all the effort she has put in during her 12-year playing career.

“Ruari has played rugby union since she was aged four, where she played club rugby for Shoals until she aged out at 12,” Kim von Prott said.

“Following that, Ruari has competed in informal rugby 7s games offered through school but has largely missed out on serious game time due to a lack of formal competition for girls between the ages of 12-18.  

“Ruari then won a scholarship to the IAS last year and again this year which has led her to now playing for the University of Wollongong women’s team which play in Sydney as well as regularly representing Illawarra.”

Both Spillane and Von Prott will both continue working hard towards their end goal.

“The girls will trial for a spot on the Illawarra rugby 7s team to play at Coffs Harbour in October,” Kim von Prott said.

“Both girls are on the radar for Rugby NSW and will be further developed towards possible selection for NSW and national teams with a particular focus on the 2020 Olympics.”

While winning the Country Championships is obviously a great a achievement for both girls and their team, Kim von Prott acknowledges that successes like this does wonders for the future of women’s rugby.

“These victories are very important for the promotion of local rugby,” she said.

“The women from Illawarra are stepping up to the plate and being selected for representative honours in far greater numbers than other clubs throughout NSW both in rugby league and rugby union.  

“There is no local competition in the Shoalhaven at the moment, as rugby for women has not been well promoted within this and surrounding areas.

“Rugby does not have a regular input into schools and is competing with the likes of Oztag and Auskick, who run school based programs every year.”

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