The women who compete on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series are some of the most talented athletes out there. Once on the pitch, they showcase superior levels of speed, toughness, and athleticism, but there is more than what meets the eye. Behind the impressive stat lines, historical performances, and highlight reel plays are inspiring stories Here are 5 things you didn’t know about a few of the athletes on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series:
1 – Australia shows their Vogue side.
(The women’s sevens team turned models — and role models. Pic: Vogue Australia February 2017, Australia Rugby 7s – photography by Justin Ridler)
The Australian Sevens team can now add being on a magazine spread to their growing list of accomplishments. The Aussie women’s gold medal win at the Rio Olympics sparked a whirlwind of media attention, including a beach photoshoot for the popular Vogue Magazine. For them it was an opportunity to break down stereotypes and set positive body images for girls. The shoot aligned perfectly with the team’s off-field goals of trying to change misconceptions around women’s rugby. Alicia Quirk stated “I think these opportunities like Vogue create great exposure to show the beautiful side of rugby and to show every individual as they are and what they can be.” Their team’s success, positivity and enjoyment for life is what makes these ladies stand out. Read the full story here.
2 – Portia Woodman by day..superhero by night
Portia Woodman is a star on the pitch for the New Zealand Black Ferns. She currently is the all-time leading try scorer in Series history with 142 and she sits second in all-time points scorer with 710. Every time she steps onto the field she is a force. What you didn’t know, is when she isn’t scoring tries…she has a secret identity…Wonder Woodman. This superhero ensures that, no matter what, fun is had on the rugby pitch at every level. Watch her save the day here. Wonder Woodman makes her appearances on a channel that the All Blacks have created for children to connect with rugby called the Small Blacks. It is a community hub that teaches skills and instills the core values of the sport. Wonder Woodman’s character and love for the sport is helping to pave the way for the next generation.
3 – Kish INSPIRES A NATION
(Jen Kish (middle) and members of Canada’s women’s rugby sevens team celebrate during the medal ceremony after winning the bronze medal against Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
The standout leadership of Canada’s Jen Kish has received accolades at the national level. An inspiring player, Kish led a strong Canadian team to a third place finish on the 2015-16 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. She followed that up by winning a ‘freaking historic’ bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. The fearless leadership of Kish has brought Women’s Rugby Sevens into the national spotlight as Team Canada continues to perform at high levels. When she isn’t leading on the pitch, she makes the time to visit rugby clubs, encouraging young athletes and sharing her message about the power of sport for women. These efforts have captured Canadians imaginations and have earned her the CAAWS Most Influential Athlete of 2016.
4 – USA’S KELTER: A sport crossover success
The Captain of the USA Eagles, Leyla Alev Kelter, has an extremely impressive sports resume. A multi-sport athlete since childhood, she has managed to dominate on the soccer field, the hockey rink, and of course the rugby pitch. Another athlete with extraordinary leadership, Kelter set out on a mission when she was a teenager to play hockey for Team USA at the Olympic games. When that door closed, another one opened and it’s what led her to rugby. Although she was picking up a rugby ball for the first time at the age of 22, her hard-working mentality, athletic ability, and strong leadership enabled her to excel at a rapid rate. It was only a matter of time until she was running out on the pitch at the Rio Olympics.
5 – Series Athletes SPARK Growth
One thing that is consistent among all the athletes on the World Women’s Rugby Sevens Series is they are the best sport ambassadors out there. These women are devoted to paving the way for young athletes to play the game of rugby. The skills they demonstrated on the world stage down in Rio has brought them into the spotlight and all of them have embraced the role in order to promote women’s champions. As a result, the game of women’s rugby has experienced staggering international growth. Over 2.2 million females are participating globally, increasing 142% since 2012 (As per World Rugby’s 2016 Year In Review; pg. 46).
A new wave of athlete is picking up a rugby ball before anything else. The future is bright and it stems from the current series athletes.
Come and see these phenomenal athletes in action as they take the field on Canadian soil on May 27/28 at Westhills Stadium in Langford BC. Tickets are available now for the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens. Don’t miss out on the fun.