Sevens Star promoting Indigenous women's rugby
English Sevens star, Ben Gollings, is doing his bit to promote Sevens rugby in Australia by donating his time to a coaching clinic for Indigenous girls on the Tweed Coast recently.
Gollings, who now lives on the Gold Coast with his Australian wife and family, is the all time highest point scorer on the World Rugby Sevens circuit, scoring 2,652 points in over 70 tournaments. With over 200 tries scored, Gollings ranks with Waisale Serevi, Seabelo Senatla, and Collins Injera as one of the greats of Sevens. Despite retiring in 2011, he still remains over 500 points clear of his nearest rival in total points scored, Tomasi Cama.
Approximately 40 girls from the Far North Coast regions of NSW attended the session, and were given a crash course in the physical skills and mental agility required to be successful in Sevens rugby. Despite the heat, the girls all appeared to be thoroughly enjoying the experience. Coaching drills and tips were also passed on to local rugby coaches.
Novembers 'Ben Gollings Masterclass / come try 7's' clinic was a joint venture between not for profit association Sports Think Tank and the traditional owners of the Far North Coast Area, the Bundjalung Mob. While all of Sports Think Tanks events are advertised as all inclusive, the clinics core aim was at stimulating grass roots Indigenous girls rugby 7's in the Far North Coast area with a view of forming teams representative of three different areas of the far North Coast. These teams would then sign up under Lloydies banner with coaching and management also forming amongst the community.
While the clinic (at Coolangatta) was a great success, President of Sports Think Tank, Scott Williams took a swipe at NSWRU for banning the event from taking place in NSW. "We were very disappointed with the attitude of individuals in the NSWRU who's responsibility it is to sanction rugby events. They refused to sign off on what was a free clinic hosted by Ben Gollings (IRB world record holder) so we had to move it from Ballina to Coolangatta where the QRU signed off immediately. There are not to many organisations that would turn away a free Masterclass for building grass roots put on by Ben but obviously NSWRU is one of them" we are still waiting on the NSWRU's analysis of our association which was offered as the reason for the ban." Mr Williams said.
He added further "what's even more concerning for rugby at the moment is that administrators get territorial (no pun intended) and while in this frame of mind, completely fail to identify the engagement potential of what clinics like these offer at a community level and the opportunity that their own local rugby development officer has now missed out on. We had a good discussion with the FNC's Dev. Officer, who was emailed a clinic run sheet prior and a great platform would have been set for FNC to leverage and benefit from the day. The clinic creates stimulation at a grass roots level with new faces and participants attending and many were forced to pull out as a result of the move to Queensland, what we primarily had was a NSW rugby clinic being held in QLD which was sanctioned by the Reds. It was a ridiculous situation" Mr Williams said.
Gollings also coached a junior team in the inaugural Gold Coast Summer Sevens series. The team made up primarily of Rugby League converts were very successful, winning the series. When asked if he thought Sevens should be targeting platers from other codes, Gollings said “First and foremost is having people with good rugby heads on them. Good skill sets is the real key focus. Guys and girls with good footballing ability is what is really key, Sevens more than anything really highlights those skills.”
Gollings is currently part of Atavus Rugby based in the US (formerly Serevi Rugby), but has ambitions to coach at the international level. After watching Gollings’ innovative coaching style, I’d urge the Australian Rugby to get him on board as soon as possible, before the opportunity is lost.
For more information see Sports Think Tank - http://www.sports-think-tank.com/
Update: Since this article was written, Ben Gollings has been appointed to a Womens Sevens Coaching position with Bond University. Gollings will take on the position of Head Coach and Regional Sevens Coordinator, which will be jointly funded by Bond University and Sports Gold Coast and based at Bond University Rugby Club. It is anticipated that Bond University will be one of the teams participating in the inaugural 2017 national women’s sevens university competition. The competition would include players from universities around Australia as well as potential marquee recruits from the national Sevens team and state development squads.
This article was first posted on Green and Gold Rugby on 7th January 2017