We were thrilled to receive the 2018 Rugby Victoria ‘Spirit of Rugby’ award earlier this year in recognition of the Club’s work in pioneering Junior Girls Rugby in Victoria.
The growth in girls rugby in Victoria over the last couple of years has been a joy to watch: from 52 registered junior girls in 2016 to 263 in 2018! And the growth is sure to continue as the word spreads about the fun, friendship and great skills that our game offers.
The Rugby Victoria ‘Spirit of Rugby’ award recognises the important part that Kiwi Hawthorn Juniors have played in this growth and was rightly shared with Racing Rugby Club, who have been our partners in this from the start.
We’re understandably proud and love to tell the story of these amazing girls, so here it is for posterity!
In February 2017 we ran our inaugural Hawthorn Touch7s program. Mums, Dads and kids from all over Melbourne tried something new and importantly, more than a dozen girls wanted to play on, after the summer season finished.
We were thrilled to have them join our existing girls at training, but before too long all our girls were looking for a game.
The obvious choice was Racing Rugby Club, who share our home ground for match days and also had a number of girls keen to play in an all-girl match.
After a few games against Racing, the girls were asking ‘Who are we playing next?’ With the girls’ support and together with Racing Rugby Club, we decided to take inter-club Touch7s on the road, staging exhibition matches at local clubs and inviting them to ask any interested girls to join in.
Touch7s is super easy to learn and even a player with no prior experience can get the hang of the game and be having fun in minutes.
Every club we went to wanted to come along the following week to the next club. By the end of the season girls representing Kiwi Hawthorn, Racing, Eltham, Melbourne, Harlequins and Powerhouse played at the Quins 7s tournament.
In 2018 Rugby Victoria established the inaugural inter-club girls Touch7s competition, with U15 and U11 grades. Weekly competition is held in gala day format, with all girls teams playing at the same venue, allowing friendships across clubs to blossom.
With further growth in 2019, the girl’s competition is expected to be split into further grades.
The 2018 highlight for our girls was the Women & Girls gala day, when our girls played and then cheered on our Club Senior Womens team.
Of course there have been other highlights along the way, like meeting Aussie 7s super star, Elia Green and playing at AAMI Park! Also playing at the Bendigo Goldfield 7s and meeting Aussie Pearls Shanni Williams, Brooke Walker, Shanice Parker, Mahalia Murphy and Black Ferns Captain, Sarah Goss. We also represented girls rugby at a meeting with the Governor of Victoria (!)
At the end of 2018 we helped organise and promote the first inter-state girls match, with two teams from Victoria taking on the ACT & Southern Highlands in Albury.
Thanks to the efforts of countless rugby volunteers from across the State and the support of Rugby Victoria, we now have a pathway in Victoria for girls rugby, from U6 to Olympic Gold.
The gains made over the past few years are just the start for girls rugby in Victoria. Our goal is to make our girls program at Kiwi Hawthorn a key part of sustaining and accelerating that growth, with a program that offers girls of all ages great fun with great friends, building great skills, but also aims to be a template for any club looking to establish a girls program and grow the game in Victoria.
Come join us!