Illawarra's women a force in sevens

Illawarra's Emma Tonegato is a star of Australian women's sevens rugby. Illawarra will hold trials for female players to join new NSW Rugby sevens competitions. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Illawarra's Emma Tonegato is a star of Australian women's sevens rugby. Illawarra will hold trials for female players to join new NSW Rugby sevens competitions. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

RUGBY SEVENS

Illawarra will be part of two new NSW Rugby Sevens Girls' and Women's competitions and will hold open trials for spots on Sunday week.

With Rugby Sevens now an Olympic sport there is a rapidly growing wider appeal for rugby's newest offering.

Illawarra will field a junior girls' under 14s and under 16s team in a 10-week rugby sevens competition run by NSW Rugby beginning in mid-July.

While details of the competition have yet to be finalised, it is expected to feature schools and club teams and be held at various Sydney venues from mid-July to late September.

A senior women's rugby sevens competition featuring tournaments across NSW will run from October to February.

Illawarra already boast two Australian women's rugby sevens stars in Nicole Beck and Emma Tonegato, with their touch football background perfect for sevens rugby. Long-serving player, coach and administrator Tammy Fletcher is the inaugural Illawarra Girls' and Women's Sevens co-ordinator.

The open trials are on Sunday June 15 at Nicholson Park, Woonona from 2pm.

"Since the introduction of Rugby Sevens as an Olympic sport there has been a significant increase in interest from women and girls to get involved," Illawarra program director Ron Davis said.

"The Illawarra region has for a long time had incredibly strong women's and girls' sporting culture.

"Two of the current Australian women's sevens team players Nicole Beck and Emma Tonegato are both from the Illawarra and both had a strong touch football background before switching over to rugby sevens. I don't think it will be long before we see more ... "

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