Rhiannon Byers joins Randwick in Jack Scott Cup while World Series Sevens is on hold

Rhiannon Byers has joined up with Randwick in the Jack Scott Cup while the World Series Sevens is on hold indefinitely. Photo: Karen Watson
Rhiannon Byers has joined up with Randwick in the Jack Scott Cup while the World Series Sevens is on hold indefinitely. Photo: Karen Watson

With COVID-19 bringing the World Series Sevens to a halt, it's been almost seven months since Rhiannon Byers has been able to pull on the Australian jersey.

The former Inverell Highlander has continued to train with the Australian squad, but it may still be a while before they can get back to competitive rugby with the Dubai and Cape Town rounds of the 2021 HSBC World Sevens Series set for November and December cancelled.

With no meaningful games on the horizon, the former Inverell Highlander has made the transition to the 15s, joining up with Randwick in the Jack Scott Cup.

"It's been going really good. We've won every game so far," Byers said.

Having played with and against a number of the Randwick players through Aon Uni 7s and youth nationals, it made the choice easy.

"That's why I went to Randwick just cause Randwick's helped me out with games and stuff..if I wasn't playing with Australia," Byers said.

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Byers has slotted in at second row, and the transition from sevens to 15s took some getting used to.

"Obviously I'm jumping [in the lineouts] and fairly in the scrums and stuff but the contact and running the ball I'm pretty sweet with," she said.

"It was just more set piece stuff, just knowing where I had to go and where I needed to be technique wise and all that.

"But yeah that was like first game and then I've been pretty sweet ever since."

The cancellation of the World Series Sevens has come with some challenges, as the Australian sevens squad had to take a pay cut, however they did receive a big boost with the announcement of $2.2 million in AIS funding in July.

Byers and the Australian squad are currently training four mornings a week, with some changes to their normal training routines in place due to coronavirus.

"It was a bit weird at the start, making sure you clean the equipment before someone else uses it," Byers said.

"Normally you team up as a two...that's your gym buddy for that week or that day. So you might do bench press or something like that and you'll be popping in and out between two people.

"Obviously now you have to go by yourself, so that was a bit weird, just making sure you're trying to keep the hygiene up top notch.

"It's definitely easier now."

Byers said there have been some challenges in staying motivated to train when there's no upcoming tournaments to work towards, but the playing group took the initiative in bringing in some changes to make sure the squad is getting the most out of training.

"We spoke to the coaches to change it up, so Wednesdays are our variety days," she said.

"So we go to a different suburb or a different scenery. We might do some boxing or we might do hill sprints or go to the sand dunes at Cronulla and just go to different places.

"Sort of just changing the scenery so we don't get too sour of training at the same place over and over again.

"It's been good that way. Our main footy days are Mondays and Fridays and we seem to be more focused after doing a different scenery or knowing that the next day is a different day, different area, so we've been training pretty well in that department."

With no upcoming tournaments, the squad is planning to play some internal games in around two weeks to help keep up that competitive mentality.

"Just trying to prepare ourselves again for tournaments even though we won't be playing," Byers said.

"Just still trying to figure out what's the best way to taper and what suits us as players.

"Whether or not some people might need to do some more running before tournaments, or they don't do running at all or vice versa."

In the meantime, Byers will continue to play for Randwick, with a tough grand final rematch against Sydney Uni in round four on August 15 before enjoying the bye in round five.

This story Byers joins Randwick with World Series Sevens on hold first appeared on The Inverell Times.