Australian Universities Women’s

7s Rising Stars team. Image – Catherine Stephen.

Coolac rugby star Clare Harpley will turn out for the Australian Universities Women’s 7s Rising Stars team at this weekend’s Queensland State 7s Championship in Brisbane.

Harpley recently captained the University of New England Lionesses at the Uni Sport Nationals Rugby 7s, a gruelling two-day competition at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast in late September.

It was there that the 22-year-old shone amongst some of the best Rugby 7s players in the nation, catch- ing the attention of dual Olympian, National Emerging 7s Coach and Rugby Australia’s Shannon Parry, and Ben Whitaker, who is the current Head of Rugby Services. “I’m over the moon,” Harpley said. “It was a real surprise to be honest’ it’s an exciting opportunity and a good chance to get some exposure. “I’ll be playing with and against some of the best players in Australia.”

 

The third year student with the University of New England, who currently studies off-campus in Coolac, hoped to put her best foot forward. “It will be a real challenge, and it will be good to show what we’ve got,” Harpley said. “It’s also an opportunity for next year as they are taking a University team to France, and playing for the Rising Stars is a foot in the door and a chance for me to showcase my skills, and that is exciting.” Harpley and the Rising Stars squad entered training camp in Queensland on Tuesday before this weekend’s event.

“We get there on Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday will be a training camp, and that will be about practising plays and working on

getting our team together to play some good Rugby,” Harpley said. “Friday is the captain’s run and jersey presentation, and Saturday and Sunday will be the tournament, which will be awesome to be a part of

Harpley boasts a stellar rugby resume and has previously been involved with the Brumbies and represented NSW Country. While she wants to make a career in the agricultural industry, the 22- year-old would love nothing more than to make her mark in the Super W or AON 7s competitions.“It would be great to make something of it, and the exposure at an event like this will be a good opportunity. I just need to have a good crack, and something could come of it,” Harpley said.

“Obviously, I want to work in the agricultural industry, but I would love to play Super W or even some 7s, and there is still a chance that could happen.” This weekend will be a wonderful experience for the young Rugby star. UniSport Australia has confirmed they will be using the tournament as a selection platform for the World University Rugby 7s Championships.

“The opportunity for these players to further develop their Rugby 7s skills and then compete against the best women’s Rugby 7s players in Australia is not only a tremendous opportunity for the athletes but shows the value of university sport in terms of the Women’s Rugby 7s development pathway,” commented Mark Sinderberry, UniSport Australia CEO.

“UniSport is excited to continue work- ing with Rugby Australia to support the development of women’s rugby 7s, with the Rising Stars program forming part of the selection process for the World University Rugby 7s Championships in France in 2024.”

Readers can check back next week to read all about Harpley and the Rising Star’s efforts against NSW and Queensland.