Warialda High School's Under 15s rugby sevens girls came home with toothy grins and a shiny silver cup on Monday, after a stellar performance in the Canberra Grammar School Tournament.
The only public school in the tournament, the Warialda Jammers were undefeated throughout, taking on private schools and regions from Queensland, the ACT and Sydney. Three Bingara Central students; Isabelle Butler, Leilani Tevaga and Brooke McKinnon added their strength to the team.
Facing the far south coast Falcons in the grand final was a challenge for the Jammers, who had a close win against the team in their first game of the tournament.
"We had three girls yellow carded, in the sin bin during the final, so that didn't help our campaign," coach Dale Beattie said.
"But we were able to hang on and take the win 17-7."
With only two tries scored against them in five games, Beattie felt Warialda's solid defense was essential to their victory.
"They held their line and also we were very, very strong all across the day," he said.
Liliana Reardon impressed throughout, and was named the Most Valuable Player of the competition. Beattie felt Reardon, McKinnon, Tevaga, Abbie Kent and Hope Sankey were all standouts for Warialda, but said all 12 girls were "exceptional".
The three Bingara girls have been training with the Jammers for weeks, and fitted seamlessly into the team. McKinnon and Tevaga also regularly travel to Inverell to play with the Highlanders.
"They're really making a concerted effort," Beattie said.
Travelling to Canberra last Thursday, the girls were able to step into the shoes of elite athletes while staying at the Australian Institute of Sport. The Jammers used the Institute's training and recovery facilities, and got to know the athletes over meals.
"It was just all around a great experience for the girls and something that we'll look to make possible a yearly trip," Beattie said.
A passionate rugby sevens fan, Beattie is excited about the many opportunities on offer for young women taking up the sport, which he says is the fastest growing in the world.
"It's exciting, it's fast, it's highly skillful, it's highly athletic and it's just a great sport to be involved in. It's great to coach and it's great to play," he said.