After years on the sidelines watching partner, and now husband, Lincoln play, when the opportunity to form a womens rugby side came up Sarah Stewart jumped at it.
“I just thought with all the build up about womens rugby in Australia at the moment we should get on board,” Stewart said.
“I thought it would be really good for the Red Devils club in general but it’s also really important to have opportunities for young girls to be involved in all different sports.”
“This is another option for them.”
Stewart has been one of the driving forces behind getting the side up and running.
“For me it’s about just doing something different. I come from a background of doing individual sports. I’ve played a bit of touch and oztag in recent years but thought I’d try something new,” she said.
While numbers have so far been encouraging, she said the hardest thing has been getting people to actually come to training.
“I think a lot of the girls still fear being tackled and getting hurt but I think once they get there and have a look at how we training and how we set up they’ll realise that strategically we’re not going to have smallest player running at the biggest player,” she said.
She said the club have been very supportive, offering them any help they have.
After getting the players, the next step was a coach. Fortunately Stewart knew a pretty handy one – her father John Hickey.
“I have a very persuasive daughter,” Hickey remarked.
Regarded as one of the town’s leading coaches, Hickey’s football background is more in league, but he has coached many different sports over the years.
“He’s a very capable coach at any sport he picks up,” Stewart said.
“He’s got this ability to inspire people and he is passionate about every sport.”
It has been a bit of a slow process so far, but it has had to be with the game foreign to many of the players.
Only two of them had played rugby before.
As their skills progress, Hickey will bring in specialist coaches to assist with some of the more technical aspects of the game like scrumming and rucks and mauls.
They have unfortunately already lost one of their players after she did her ACL playing oztag recently, but from what he has seen so far there is plenty of talent.
“There’s some good young girls there,” Hickey said.
“The main thing is, a lot of them at the moment, they are looking forward to it with great anticipation.”
Two of the players are already being slated for higher honours with Stewart and Simone Lickorish named in the extended Central North training squad.
The 25-strong squad was selected following the gala day held at Barraba on the weekend.
Doubling as the launch of the women’s 7’s season, the day also provided the Red Devils their first hit-out.
The women train Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6.30pm and any interested players are more than welcome.