Newcastle rugby: Hawthorne Academy brings men and women together on same pitch

UNIFIED: Members of the Hawthorne Academy sevens squad Caileb Gerrard, Alanna Patison, Bailey Hefren and Frances Afeaki. Picture: Simone De Peak

UNIFIED: Members of the Hawthorne Academy sevens squad Caileb Gerrard, Alanna Patison, Bailey Hefren and Frances Afeaki. Picture: Simone De Peak

THE Hawthorne Sevens Academy is taking a unified approach to winning the NSW sevens championships.

In a first, the colts (under-20s) and women’s team will train together as one squad. 

Stu Pinkerton (colts) and Will Skully (women) will oversee the program. 

They will share resources, attend the same tournaments and the players will train side by side for the majority of each session.

“In sevens we do very little contact training, bar a bit of technique at the breakdown,” Pinkerton said. “It is largely fitness and skills based.  Obviously, physically the colts have an advantage. Mentally, the women are very focused. A lot of them train by themselves in the gym and are aiming to play at a higher representative level. I want their mentality to rub off on the colts.”

The squad, which is comprised of 22 colts and 16 women, will assemble for their first training session at Hunter Valley Grammar on Monday .

Both teams compete in seven tournaments in Nowra (September 30) and Mudgee (October 7) before the NSW under-20 men’s and open women championships in Newcastle later in the season.

The Hawthorne Academy finished third in the colts last year. Caileb Gerrard, Kade Robinson, Max Stafford, Luke Rees and Chase Hicks are back again and Pinkerton hopes to at least make the semis again.

For some of the colts, it is their first formal exposure to sevens. The women’s squad, which is comprised of players aged 16 to 32, has vast experience at the shortened form.

Six players are playing in the inaugural national Uni 7’s series which starts in Tasmania this weekend.

Layne Morgan will line up for the Macquarie University Rays. Kate Gilbert, Mel Howard, Franics Afeaki, Brydie Parker and Hannah Southwell are part of the New England University Lions.

Morgan and Brydie Parker were members of the Australian team which won gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games this year.

Seven of the squad have played at NSW level in the past three years and three at an international level.

Colts: Jacob Rabai, Caleb Hopping, Zac Crowley, Ben Wood, Isaac Ulberg, Jordan Hill, Max Stafford, Luke Rees, Lachlan Miller, Cooper May, Ethan Wilkinson, Eli McCulloch, Kade Robinson, Lachlan Milton, Ethan Fowles, Josh Raftos, Liam Kelly, Bailey Hefren, ​Gus Locke, Caileb Gerrard , Cooper Harris (Singleton), Chase Hicks.

Women: Ryleigh-Jo Curtin, Kate Gilbert, Alanna Patison, Allison Traverso, Frances Afeaki, Mel Howard, Annika Jamieson, Laura Rapley, Ashlee Williams, Alicia Martin, Layne Morgan, Maddison Ingram, Brittany Craft, Viana Bainivalu, Ashley Crebert, Brydie Parker