Tumut High School’s Monique Bullock has been chosen in the inaugural NSW Combined High Schools under 18s seven-a-side rugby team.
Monique’s selection followed a series of stellar performances by the Tumut High team in this year’s Richard Shaw Shield.
Tumut High finished equal third in the state-wide competition earlier this month.
The school earned a berth in the finals at Merrylands after winning the Riverina Championships earlier in the year.
Playing against the top eight teams in the state, Tumut began the finals matches with a clash against Nyngan.
Up 10-0 early, Tumut couldn’t stave a quickfire comeback from Nyngan, who laid on three tries in a matter of minutes to eventually win 17-15.
The Tumut girls took the loss in their stride and regrouped to take on a powerful Matraville line up.
With the nerves out of their system, Tumut played some enterprising rugby to outgun the Sydney school 17-10.
The win secured Tumut first place in its pool and a spot in the semi-final against The Entrance.
Playing for a berth in the final, Tumut played well but ultimately went down to The Entrance by a try.
The Entrance would later go down to defending champs Warialda 15-5, while Tumut was declared equal third alongside the team they’d previously defeated, Matraville.
Tumut coach and decorated rugby player Michelle Perry, who introduced the sport to the school three years ago, was proud of her team’s performances.
“This was the best performance we’ve had in the competition and you could say we’ve been building towards it for three years,” Ms Perry said.
“We have a fair few Year 12 players who have been in there from the start.”
“I’ll have to find some younger players next year to replace them.”
Ms Perry said it had been a thrill to watch the players develop, including Monique Bullock, one of seven players selected in the merit team, based on nominations from referees on the day.
With scouts from NSW Waratahs there on the day, Monique has been invited into the Waratahs’ 7s pathways program, which involves regular training sessions in Sydney.
A talented footballer, Monique played for the Canberra Raiders in the Tarsha Cup this season and Ms Perry said she had a bright future.
“She’s an awesome player – not many girls can land drop-kicks from the sideline like she does,” Ms Perry said.
The likes of Batlow’s Sharni Williams – and Ms Perry, herself a former Australian rugby representative – are examples of local juniors who have gone on to reach the pinnacles of their sport.
“There are lots of opportunities in sport for girls now,” Ms Perry said. “With rugby an Olympic sport, we might just be able to find another one from this region.
“Even for those who don’t have those kind of dreams, rugby is a great team sport and fantastic way to make friends.”