Students from Boggabilla Central School and Toomelah Public School took a break from the classroom to learn rugby union skills and life lessons last week as part of Australia’s first Indigenous Rugby Program, Deadly 7s.
The Deadly 7s program is an initiative of the Australian government and Rugby Australia to give indigenous students a taste of rugby union as well as some vital lessons on the importance of education and keeping healthy, drawing on role models such as Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale or Wallaroos winger Mahalia Murphy.
“It was launched at the end of last year and it’s about engaging participants in schools with high indigenous populations or remote and rural schools that might not see a lot of sport and specifically rugby union,” Queensland Rugby Union participation officer for Darling Downs Daniel Birrell said.
“You see some of these community towns where people are travelling 300-400km to play footy, a lot of the towns face high unemployment rates, as well as a number of social issues particularly around alcohol and drug abuse and being able to offer kids an outlet and reward them for some of their attendance rates and behaviour, and also allow them to just get out and be physically active, really preach that healthy lifestyle message through wearing sunscreen, wearing hats, keeping hydrated, eating healthily throughout their lunchbreaks has been really rewarding.”
About 50 students from Boggabilla and another 30 from Toomelah were involved in the program on Monday, November 27.
The students learnt basic rugby skills such as catching, passing, kicking and tackling.
“We did some catch-pass drills, spatial awareness, making sure you’re communicating and talking, eyes up, being aware of where you are on the field and then from there we’ve pushed it into some basic VIVA 7s skills for Foxtel touch rugby 7s which is more or less a touch rugby version of rugby 7s,” Birrell said.
“The kids have taken to that really well.”
Boggabilla Central School sports teacher Jonathan Synnott said the Deadly 7s initiative is a great idea to introduce rugby union to students who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to it.
“It allows students in remote communities to access sports like rugby union,” he said.
“Here in Boggabilla there isn’t union played at a local level so for the students to have access to initiatives like this coming out and raising awareness it’s really important to show the kids that there are a lot of opportunities out there.”
Mr Synnott said the students loved participating in the program.
“The kids absolutely love this kind of thing - they play sport all the time, they’re in the streets playing sport after school, they’re doing it on weekends, any opportunity for kids to have access to this sort of thing is fantastic,” he said.
Boggabilla student Benji Boland had a great time learning passing, kicking and stepping skills.
“It was good fun,” he said.
“I enjoyed playing rugby.”