GADS PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS WOMEN'S PATHWAYS IN THE SOUTH
22 March 2021, written by Ian Bond
The Southern Districts Rugby Club (SDRC) Girls Accelerated Development Squad (GADS) program was designed and executed by head coach of the Rebelettes Chris Nay who scaled down what is arguably the best Women’s Sevens Program in the country and applied it to the squad of twenty five 13-17 year old’s.
The GADS players, represented by players from Southern Districts and the Illawarra – coming from as far south as Gerringong to participate in this high quality program.
Chris saw great a deal of value in investing him time, knowledge and expertise into the GADS program as he has experienced first hand the lack of pathways in women's sevens:
"Every year we are desperately searching for new players from touch, oztag, rugby league and other sports to poach talent and this takes time, effort and money. The GADS program offers a genuine pathway for players to progress naturally into the Rebelettes, which from a coaching perspective creates sustainability for the team."
They were treated with a coaching staff consisting of:
Chris Nay: Head coach Australian National Sevens and Southern Districts Rebelettes, UTS Aon 7s and former Southern Districts player.
Junior Ta’ale: Coach U17s NSW Men’s and Southern Districts Juniors Seven’s
Angus McGrath: Southern Districts Rebelettes Coach & former Southern Districts player.
Memz Vuibureta Leivere’: Fijian Seven’s Olympic Team and Southern Districts Rebelettes 1st Division
Ella Fontaine: Southern Districts Rebelettes 1st Division player
Ian Bond: Southern Districts 1st & 2nd Grade High Performance, Junior Rugby Seven’s & XV’s Coach and Life Skills Coach Juniors, Colts and Grade.
The program went full circle from advanced fundamentals to game strategy to entrenched fundamentals, really impressing in the players the need to embed the fundamentals of a fantastic passing game and also the art of tackling.
The points of difference being that players learned the differentiation between tackling and defence and the program rounded out the holistic approach to great defence as opposed to great tackling. Also the difference between playing structured offensive attack and a systems approach that allows enough structure to allow players to play natural rugby and to know when to execute that approach.
Whilst many involved were praising Chris on intrinsic success of the program, by observing the accelerated development of the players across the entire squad, Chris balanced that view by stating how ecstatic he was about having a pool of talent right on his doorstep.
Chris continued by stating that his (undefeated over 2 years) 1st Division Rebelettes were ‘hand reared’ (my words not his) from other sports which was wonderful and also lots of work. So to have young players in the pipeline that had Rugby playing experience under their belt before they were 17 was fantastic.
This doesn’t just work in theory. Before the end of the 12 week program the Rebelettes would invite no less than 5 GADS players to play for the Rebelettes. A wonderfully mutually beneficial outcome and a perfect example of the Rugby Pathway that the program was created for – just well ahead of any expectations- huge result! The players who were selected and played
Sofie Macdonald – Winner of the Memz Medal for hard work, continual improvement, communication, respect and team work.
Chris was very quick to stress to the entire squad that age restrictions, with a minimum age of 16, were one of the main reasons why other players were not able to be invited to play, but was very enthusiastic in what he saw in the younger GADS players.
The girls debuted at the inaugural Kiama 7’s where four of the Fab Five cut their teeth in the 2nd Division "Pool of Death" where every opposition team had 1st Division players in their ranks.
Ambryn debuted for 1st’ Division who went on undefeated to defend their title and the championship.
The future is looking bright for Women’s Rugby Sevens in the district and beyond!