Hello I’m Alex. I’m 27, I’m originally from England and I came over to Australia at the end of 2017 with a working holiday visa, planning to travel and work for the rest of the year. Surprise surprise, I’m still here two and a half years later!
It was Byron Bay I really fell in love with, and I love my life of work, surf, chill and fun in paradise. Outside of rugby I’m a bit of everything at the moment – personal trainer, partnerships/ PR manager and building an acting career!
How Did You Get Introduced to Rugby?
I actually played as a mini, so primary school age, in England! I have two younger brothers so anything they could do I wanted to do better. I remember being the only girl in the team playing tag rugby until I was U11, then we had to split from the boys and I gave up to focus on swimming. There were only 3 girls, so there wasn’t even a proper chance to pursue it back then. I am a big international rugby fan, and even though I stopped playing, my love for the sport was maintained through my dad and family always playing and supporting. I ADORE going to Twickenham in England and the whole atmosphere of watching the sport. Rugby spectators are the best.
How Did You Get Into Playing?
I started playing again in Byron Bay! A friend I worked with suggested I come and play tag, which Aussies play in the rugby union off season. It was actually this social side of Byron that I think kept me here. I found my love for it and skills really hadn’t totally gone, so it was awesome to pick it up and rekindle a fire I didn’t even know was there! Then I met Tamara and Katie, who told me there was a women’s 7s team, The Bullets…! I was not expecting to ever play contact rugby but, low and behold, within a month I’d been asked to be the team captain and had an amazing group of women that I got to train with and play matches with. It was actually kind of scary to play again, and I’ll never forget the first game of tears in the first half! But I’ll also never forget the comeback in the second, where the whole team just came together and smashed it to find this amazing belief in each other.
What Are The Biggest Misconceptions About Women’s Rugby?
Probably that you become super manly and hench. This is not the case – rugby requires agility, flexibility, strength and speed. Our team is certainly the perfect example of all shapes and sizes. Yes you need strength and size on the team, but two training sessions and one 7s match a week does not make women bulky or muscly.
I think another misconception is that you need to know the rules before trying it, or need to have played before. This isn’t the case, I would recommend trying some training sessions and getting a feel for it that way.
Often everyone is at the same level of thinking they should know more, but with consistency and support we built a team last year from girls who had never played to a team that was a serious contender by the end of the season.
Thirdly, there is a fear around contact and getting hurt. I’m not going to lie, you can get injured (I fractured my sternum last year!). But we do everything we can by learning technique to prevent this from happening. Tackling is also FUN, and when you’re in the game you just go for it and feel the adrenaline kick in to sprint over the line or get in an awesome position to pass the ball.
What Do You Love Most About Playing Rugby?
The TEAM! Training with a team is the best exercise you can do for your soul and fitness. I adore it. I love the people, the work ethic, the support, the laughs! When someone isn’t feeling it, you’ve got a whole group there ready to pull you through the other side. If I’m ever not feeling like training, I literally drag myself there and within 2 minutes of seeing everyone I’m grinning again.
I also love the challenge and new skills I’ve learned – crikey, it takes mental capacity too. To have coordination and communicate and pass and catch accurately. For me, I’ve also loved being a captain. Being able to see so much improvement in the team, who all pretty much started as beginners at the start of the season. By the end of it the changes were INSANE.
I have made an entire group of friends through rugby and it really brings you close to people you would never meet otherwise. That’s the other love – the social side! We get the boys and girls all together on match days and it’s pretty wild. If you like a bevvy but can’t catch a ball, join up regardless.
Why do you think women’s rugby has seen such a rise in recent years?
I think the media has done a great job of putting women’s rugby on a level playing field with the men’s. We now have televised tournaments with the same name as the boys – finally girls are seeing role models they can relate to rather than be scared of a sport which didn’t have the female touch before.
Would you recommend playing rugby overseas to other women?
YESYESYESYES. I found a new family here – if in doubt, just try it. Beginner, intermediate, expert – we are all in it together.