Following a stellar campaign at the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games culminating in securing the gold medal, the rugby 7s team have been crowned Emerging Athletes of the Month.
Ably defending the gold medals won from both the 2015 and 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, the team’s success across the Games saw them top the podium after defeating Canada in the final match, 50-0.
“It was the best feeling in the world to win the gold with my best friends. We were so excited when that final whistle blew and it’s so hard to put into words how I felt,” vice-captain Piper Simons said.
Crediting the “incredibly strong team dynamic and bond” for helping to lead the way to victory, their confidence in one another, as well as the team’s cohesiveness, was on full display across all their matches.
“Once we were on the field, we all felt confident in each-other and trusted the process, allowing us to play our best team footy.”
“We are a very close team and have collectively worked incredibly hard in the lead up to Trinbago, so it felt amazing to show everyone what we are capable of.”
Rhani Hagan, known for her attacking ability and fast and agile game play, echoed many of Simon’s sentiments.
“We worked so hard throughout the year together and the more games we played across the tournament the stronger we got as a team, so I had a lot of confidence in the girls,” Hagan said.
“It felt amazing, there’s no better feeling then to win the Commonwealth Youth Games, especially with that bunch of girls, it was an amazing feeling.
Also taking it out for the third year in a row, and just keeping the streak that all the other past Aussie girls have worked so hard for was really special as well.”
🥇 Gold for our rugby 7s girls!!
— Commonwealth Games Australia (@CommGamesAUS) August 8, 2023
Head Coach Shannon Parry, herself a Gold Coast 2018 silver medallist and Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medallist, acknowledged the “hard work” of the team throughout Trinbago 2023.
“The girls played some excellent team rugby in challenging conditions and performed clinically in key moments which got us the result at the end of the day,” Parry said.
“This talented group of young women have a bright future and can’t wait to see them flourish at the senior level in years to come.”
Further cementing the “strong team culture” that was present across all aspects of their game, both Simons and Hagan were quick to thank key people for their support.
“I cannot thank my teammates and our coaching staff enough for all their hard work and effort into getting myself and the team to where we are today,” Simons said.
“I am so grateful for the dedication and support that has been provided, allowing me to become the player I am today.”
“Two main people that I would love to thank would have to be Shanno (Shannon Parry) and Parko (Lachlan Parkinson), two amazing people, who put in so much time and effort into the team and always putting the team above everything,” Hagan said.
“They made the experience a once in a lifetime experience, which was amazing, so I would love to thank them for all of their hard work behind the scenes.”
Australian Rugby 7s Team – Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games
- Damita Betham (NSW Waratahs 7s)
- Lucinda Bourke (University of Queensland)
- Anaia Cruickshank (Manly Mermaids)
- Mackenzie Davis
- Heidi Dennis (QAS / Easts)
- Fleur Ginn (Reds)
- Rhani Hagan (Easts Rugby Union)
- Amahli-Sieli Hala (Bond University)
- Caitlyn Halse (Burraneer)
- Leilani Hills (QAS Senior Squad)
- Faitala Moleka (Sydney Uni)
- Piper Simons (Manly Mermaids Rugby Union)
- Ava Wereta (Bond University)
Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) has a focus on supporting emerging talent and celebrating the next generation of Australian sport stars.
Over the course of 2023, an athlete will be recognised each month as the Commonwealth Games Australia emerging athlete of the month and will receive a contribution towards their training expenses.
Three finalists from the monthly winners will be invited to the 2024 Commonwealth Games Australia Presidents Function where one will be named the Commonwealth Games Australia Emerging Athlete of the Year.
The annual winner, selected by the Awards Sub Committee will receive a $5000 CGA scholarship toward their sporting career.