Day one of pre-season and Wauchope Thunder were missing two key figures in Paddy Bowen and Josh Bray. The coaching duo got a call up into the Stars USA 7s team to assist at the Coral Coast 7s in Fiji.
The event is considered by many as the holy grail of 7s tournaments, played on the Coral Coast, the spiritual home of 7s in Fiji.
Day one of the tournament and it was clear that the Stars team meant business, with the women knocking over the Fijian national team in front of a home crowd.
The Stars had no shortage of heavy weight coaches in former Canadian 7s coach David Mays, taking charge of the men’s team. Former New Zealand international Mere Baker led a very successful women’s campaign.
Both Thunder coaches highly praised the experience of learning from some of the best in the game; and both were looking forward to bringing what they learnt back to Wauchope. Bray spoke highly of Coach Mays.
“I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to work with David this close to the season. David really challenged me to step my game up as a coach and as a player to the next level,” he said.
NSW Country was well-represented in the playing department too, with Rhiannon Byers and Ashleigh Walker from the Central North competition pulling on the Stars jersey for the first time.
Bowen expressed how important this was to Country Rugby.
“These opportunities are often lost for country players and coaches. These girls were playing club football one week and playing along side world series players the next,” he said.
“It was a surreal experience, just getting to exchange ideas with Olympic gold medal coach Ben Ryan and players like DJ Forbes were invaluable. We definitely have so much to bring back to Wauchope.”
Wauchope Thunder kick off their 2018 campaign at Crescent Head 7s on Saturday February 3. Pre-season training is on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Andrews Park from 5:45pm.