Stateside success for women's rugby team

Published on LEUT Kirsti Burtenshaw (author), Ms Colleen McCloskey (photographer)

Topic(s): Rugby Union

Captain of the ADFRU Women's Squad AB Saluluelanei Gary in action during the last game of the tour. (photo: Colleen McCloskey)
Captain of the ADFRU Women's Squad AB Saluluelanei Gary in action during the last game of the tour.

The Australian Defence Force Rugby Union women’s tour of the United States finished the way it started, with positive outcomes on and off the field.

The team completed a clean sweep in all four games, starting with a convincing win against Norwich University, 60-5.

A tighter 46-10 scoreline against West Point was followed by a thumping of the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis) 96-0.

The final game resulted in a hard-fought victory against Scion Rugby Club, 27-7.

Defence Attaché, Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore, attended the last match with Military Attaché Brigadier David Creagh and said the tour was a vital part of international engagement with one of Australia’s closest allies. 

“It achieved the positive outcomes it set out to accomplish,” he said.

“Although coming away from the US tour undefeated was a fantastic achievement, it was the benefits off-field and during the combined training sessions for the individual players and greater Australian Defence Force that were a real measure of how successful the tour was.

"It did not disappoint.”

Contingent Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jen Harris, said events such as the women’s tour were a unique opportunity to engage with, and reinforce the important relationship with, the United States outside formal activities and exchanges. 

“Importantly, it also provides opportunities for like-minded professional military women to develop support and mentoring networks,” she said.

“Rugby builds resilience, leadership and teamwork. These skills were all developed and displayed by the players during this tour against international opposition.”

Seaman Marine Technician Michaela Peck said the tour was one that she would never forget.

“Australian Defence Force Rugby has provided so many opportunities I would never get in a civilian job,” she said.

“This tour was invaluable for the experience and knowledge I gained as a player, but the friendships and connections I forged with the players from the US teams are ones I will nurture into the future.”