The Aussie Women’s Rugby Sevens team is currently ranked number 1 in the world, and are in pole position for a history-making medal at the Rio Olympics. This weekend they’re playing in France to win the World Series – for the first time ever, for a women’s or men’s team.
Team member and mother-of-one Nicole Beck writes for Mamamia about how she started playing rugby, and how it’s improved her bond with her daughter.
When kids are young they watch the Olympics and dream of being a part of it, but when I was young Rugby Sevens wasn’t in the Olympics. And honestly, back then, I didn’t care – I hardly knew anything about the sport! It’s amazing now to think that in a couple of months I might be on the plane to Rio, aiming to win the first ever gold medal in women’s Rugby Sevens.
I grew up in a family of four kids, with two older brothers and a younger sister, in Bulli, NSW. As a family, we loved sport, and I always wanted to play whatever my brothers were playing – soccer, baseball, anything.
I got into rugby accidentally. When I was in high school I had been playing soccer and touch for five years when my friends and I decided to put a rugby league team together. We figured that it would combine the best of both sports: the skills from touch, and the physical element of soccer. When we found out there wasn’t a rugby league competition for our age group, we formed a rugby union team instead.
I learnt really quickly that I had a lot to learn! Tackling was something I’d never tried before, and for people that don’t understand what’s going on, it can seem like a massive game of ‘stacks on’. I began to love it though – especially the mental, strategic challenges of finding ways to work within the laws of the game to beat your opponents. It’s a really complex and interesting game.
At the same time I was still playing touch. When the ARU (Australian Rugby Union) contacted me to say they’d seen me at the national touch football titles and wanted me to try out for the Australian Sevens Rugby team, I literally thought it was a prank. It was so out of the blue. But that was in 2009 and I’ve been playing Sevens ever since.
In 2013, the Australian Women’s Sevens team became “professional” which meant we were paid a full-time wage to train. Before this, I had been working full time, and training after work, and I also had my brand new baby girl, Sophie, to look after.