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Jane Garraway on kicking off the inaugural Super W season

Alexa Sommerville

Growing up in Wagga Wagga, Jane Garraway was, by admission, almost destined to be a professional sports player.

“Basically, the thing to do there was to play sport. I’ve played lots of sports – I’ve done basically the whole lot of them from club weekend sport and school sport,” says Garraway. “I’ve done netball, soccer, athletics, a bit of AFL, and then I’ve represented those sports in various levels.”

But those other sports never really had a chance, as it was rugby that had the 20-year-old’s heart. “I come from a pretty big rugby family, where everyone plays rugby. When I turned 16, I was eligible to play in women’s rugby competitions, so I started playing women’s 7s at club level back in Wagga. And then I moved to Canberra, and I started playing 15-a-side.”

Garraway’s lifelong athleticism has led her to the Canberra Women’s Brumbies and the inaugural Super W series, a brand spanking new national women’s rugby competition. Kicking off recently on March 3, the tournament involves five teams from the ACT, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria, and Queensland.

The Super W competition is the latest step by Rugby Australia to promote the women’s game, celebrate female talent and level the playing field.

It has proven to be a popular launch, with 60 players showing up to the Brumbies’ open try outs on January 13 this year. Coach Tony Doherty invited women from all sports and codes to try out, with one squad member defecting from basketball.

The squad trains five times a week, incorporating gym and field sessions. These aren’t your average workouts though, as the women aren’t snoozing their alarms to skip a gym session.

“Gym sessions are not [so] long, but the field sessions can be quite long. It’s pretty full on, but it’s what’s needed to get the job done. At the end of the day, it’s all for our benefit, so we do enjoy it.”

Garraway notes that playing with a group of women who share a common love is a big reason they work well together. “We’re from a variety of different sports, but we’ve all come together to play rugby because it’s ultimately the game we most love and enjoy playing. We’re really quite close and I feel we’re all like a family now.

“Our youngest player is 18 years old and our oldest player is 40. Age hasn’t influenced the way we play and associate with each other. If anything, it’s probably brought us together as the younger girls have been able to learn from the older and more experienced girls.”

In preparation for the Super W series, the Brumbies Women’s last month tackled the Brisbane Tens. Winning one of their three games, it was an opportunity for the team to come together and for the new players to get a feel for the game before heading into the big tournament, says Garraway.

“It was good to get a chance to play at high level we don’t often get a chance to play at. It showed us the competition standards we were up against, and allowed us to come back, reflect on what we’d done and what we’d played in our preparation in order to move forward.”

The significance behind Super W is not lost on Garraway, and she’s excited to reap the opportunities being created in women’s rugby, including the possibility of players being paid.

“This competition is definitely gonna go forward in leaps and bounds, so it’s pretty exciting to be a part of this movement going forward and having those opportunities to really make a career out of rugby.

“The biggest thing we’re gonna get out of it is having strong competition week in and week out, and being able to develop ourselves and our skills as players to move forward and progress in rugby. I love the sport, I love the game, I love the environment. I wouldn’t see my future being any other thing.”

The team is gearing up to play on their home ground this Saturday 17 March at GIO Stadium against the Queensland Women’s team. Having lost to NSW Women in their opening fixture, Queensland will likely by hungry for a rebound win against the Brumbies, but Garraway believes the team has what it takes.

“I’m pretty nervous, but I think its good nervous energy we can take forward and onto the field, and use that energy in a positive way. All our coaching staff and management staff have prepared us going into this weekend, and now it’s our turn to step up and get the job done.”

Though it probably won’t hurt that Garraway’s rugby-mad family will be there to cheer her on, an early bird ticket special is available for anyone wanting to support the team, with tickets just $5 at the gate if you arrive before 5.20pm.

See the Brumbies Women play their inaugural Buildcorp Super W game against Queensland Women this Saturday 17 March from 5pm at GIO Stadium, followed by the Plus500 Brumbies v. Sharks at 7.45pm. Tickets on sale at ticketek.com.au.

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Alexa Sommerville

Canberra raised Alexa Sommerville has almost completed her Bachelor of Communication in Journalism degree. After five months on exchange in the UK, Alexa fell in love with solo travel and has mastered the art of daydreaming either about her next getaway or her next meal. She enjoys watching health documentaries, online shopping and old-school film photography, but not as much as she does annoying her mother by using every ingredient in the pantry to bake her latest healthy food obsession. Alexa hopes one day to be writing about traveling, or eating, or writing while she travels and eats. More about the Author

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