Alana Thomas: Why patience must be a virtue for developing women’s rugby in Victoria

· Super Rugby
by Rebels Media

Following the Super W side’s two tough losses to Queensland Women and Brumbies Women, Head Coach Alana Thomas has penned an article to the Victorian rugby community calling for patience, saying the 2019 program is all about developing women’s rugby for the future.

It wasn’t the result we wanted at all, we knew after playing the Brumbies in Albury in our trial match that they were a team we could go up and beat.

We had a really good warmup, and everyone was feeling quite energetic. However, it just seems to happen that we let an early try in then another one, then those two tries turn into four pretty quickly.

The first two weeks results are not a reflection of the hard work that this team has put in which started back in 2018. Last October, the coaches were appointed and we’ve been working hard since then, right until now, it’s been four months of hard work that these girls have put in four to five times a week.

People forget that we don’t get paid. We work 40 hours a week, study full-time and some of have families to support. They’re having to invest four hours a day after working or studying when everyone is usually at home with their families.

We don’t have every day to work with these players. At the end of the day, from a high-performance level, this is a massive step up from playing Club rugby.

I think what people have got to realise is that there’s a lot of hard work and real optimism with the young group. We have a number of young players in this group 17, 18 and 19-year-olds.

A lot people say you shouldn’t have a developing squad in this competition, but we need to give these players the opportunity to grow and develop and that means they need to get experience.

We don’t have that massive depth like New South Wales and Queensland do yet, but we are getting it because we are developing a pathway with our youth girl’s competition and these things are helping the next generation of players come through.

In my view, it’s a two to three-year plan. This year is about getting some depth across this squad, getting some knowledge into our girls, getting our core skills working and starting to build a foundation so next year, we can start to get a bit more consistency into our game.  

It’s all about developing the players around what it takes to be a high-performance athlete, it is not state rugby anymore, we are a part of a high-performance organisation.

A great quote from Welsh rugby player Jack Dixon is really pertinent to where I think we are at. He says, “If you focus on the results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get the results”.

We’ve got to protect them (the players) and make sure the two results we’ve had don’t put them off the game and we’ve got to start to grow them and develop them and make sure it’s all about learning.

The expectations of where we had ourselves at the start of the season were a little bit high, so now we’ve got to readjust for the next two rounds and hope we can improve mentally, because there’s nothing physically holding us back because we are fitter, stronger and our skills have improved.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and no one likes losing. The staff are passionate about growing women’s rugby, we love it and we want to give something back to the game. We are here to provide opportunities for the players to give them a pathway in rugby, we are doing it for them.

Supporters, I ask that you stick with us and support us on this journey. Be proud of the team and get behind us.