Rugby great Ash Hewson arrives in Adelaide to help establish a foundation

(Taken from The Advertiser, 3rd November 2018)

THE conditions are ripe in South Australia for the formation of an elite Super W team after a near doubling in the number of girls taking up rugby in the past year.

SA Rugby’s chief executive officer Carl Jones said there had been a staggering increase in girls’ playing numbers: an increase of 38 per cent over the past 12 months and three more teams added into the playing schedule, an increase of five teams to eight.

He said another 12 to 24 months of sustained growth and Adelaide would have its own team in the elite Super W national rugby 15s competition.

“We’ve developed a close relationship with Melbourne and any girls showing promise (in SA) can be brought into that environment, while living in Adelaide and training in Adelaide and be flown across periodically to be with the wider group,” he said.

“So, I’d say we’re 12 to 24 months away from having a team based in Adelaide.”

He said while women’s participation had seen a 38 per cent increase in numbers in 12 months, men’s figures had stayed stable, and boys juniors had enjoyed a nine per cent rise.

The impressive jump in girls’ participation numbers comes as former captain of the Australian Rugby XVs Wallaroos side, Ash Hewson, flew into Adelaide to help launch the SA Women’s Rugby Foundation, aimed at helping SA players along elite pathways with grants to aid with travel costs and training.

“Rugby has given me so much.” Hewson – one of the countrys most decorated rugby competitors – said.

“I’ve been able to travel the world, meet people who I love very much and call my best friends, so anything I can do to encourage young girls to aspire to achieve and be involved in such a great game, I will always put my hand up.”

Hewson said that her greatest rugby achievement had been captaining the Wallaroos on the international stage.

“Any time I put on that Wallaroos jersey was very special,” she said.

In April, she ended her 11-year international career by announcing her retirement, but as NSW captain in this year’s inaugural national Super W competition, she was pleased and proud
to launch the Adelaide foundation helping other girls achieve their sporting dreams.

Yesterday morning she held a “Come and Try” event for girls at the South Rugby Union Football Club, where she was impressed with the talent on show.

Jones agreed that SA rugby was seeing a surge in female elite competitors, with two Adelaide girls now playing in the Super W for Melbourne Rebels and one for Western Force in Perth.

“But finding the pathway for these women out of Adelaide is quite expensive with travel, because we don’t have the high-level team in Adelaide,” he said. “This foundation will help the development of more elite women.” He said the appetite that women and girls now had for playing contact sport was a key driver in the increasing numbers.