Rugby teams shine at National 7s Championship

Published on LEUT Kirsti Burtenshaw (author), Saa Imaging (photographer)

Topic(s): Rugby Union

SMN Thomas Hiramatsu of HMAS Coonawarra. (photo: Saa Imaging)
SMN Thomas Hiramatsu of HMAS Coonawarra.

Two Australian Defence Force Rugby Union Teams are celebrating successful campaigns at the Australian Rugby National Sevens Championships recently, with the women’s team finishing in seventh place and the men’s team an impressive third place.

These results are a positive outcome for the Australian Defence Force Rugby Union program, and identified the teams as a force to be reckoned with on the Australian rugby stage.

The Australian Defence Force teams played against rugby union powerhouses including Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, and New South Wales who draw from player pools of thousands and boast Australian representative players throughout their sides.

Despite limited preparation time and a small player pool, both the men’s and women’s teams showed a positive attitude and fighting spirit throughout the 2017 competition.

The men in particular made their intentions clear from the first whistle going through undefeated excluding a one-try defeat in the semi-final to Queensland White 26 - 19. 

Head Coach Sapper, Keli Fukofuka, was ecstatic with the result and pleased that the efforts of both management and players to achieve a quality Rugby Union 7s program had exceeded expectations.

“I started the Australian Defence Force Rugby Union 7s program with three main aims; to allow our men and women to compete at the highest level of competition in Australia; to develop better people on and off the field; and to provide the opportunity for Australian Defence Force personnel to be exposed to the Australian selectors,” Sapper Fukofuka said.

“In a very short time we have achieved all of these outcomes. These include Australian selectors identifying a number of our players and inviting one player, Seaman Boatswains Mate Thomas Hiramatsu from HMAS Coonawarra to an Australian Rugby Union 7s selection camp.

“Seaman Hiramatsu only recently joined the Rugby Union program after contacting us via our Facebook page. 

“Our performance and professionalism as a whole was also commended by Australian Rugby 7’s selectors,” he said.

Seaman Hiramatsu was thrilled at the outcome of the competition and described what being part of the 2017 campaign meant to him.

“Playing for the Australian Defence Force Rugby Union team means a lot to me, the culture of the team is outstanding and the team bonding is second to none,” Seaman Hiramatsu said. 

“We are always there for each other and that’s what makes playing for Australian Defence Force the most enjoyable.

“It really is an honour to represent, and to finish third overall at the Australian Nationals is an outstanding result.

“Thanks must go to the coaches and manager for their tireless efforts and sacrifices and of course to the team itself. 

“Everyone worked so hard to wear that Australian Defence Force rugby jersey and we wear it with pride and honour.

“I will be excited to be a part of this team in the future,” he said.

On his individual performance Seaman Hiramatsu gave credit to Australian Defence Force Rugby Union.

“I wouldn’t have even been playing if team management hadn’t taken a punt on me, and responded to my enquiry via Facebook. 

“They got me on the team, the coaches got me playing my best and the players helped me look good enough to get selected.

“Without those involved I wouldn’t be going to this camp and I am so thankful for the experience.”

The players have now returned to their respective units and will prepare single service representational duties at the Australian Defence Force Rugby Union 15-a-side Championships in April/May 2018.

Any players who wish to be selected in their single service or Australian Defence Force combined team should contact Australian Defence Force Rugby Union.

Details can be found on Facebook at Australian Defence Force Rugby Union.