Wallaroos target 2029 World Cup victory after celebrating historic pay deal with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Kirribilli House
“I started playing when I was eight years old, I looked up to Phil Waugh and Matt Giteau,” Robinson said. “They were my two favourite players, and I didn’t even know Australia had a women’s team. I never thought about getting paid, I didn’t even know it was an option. But to be able to create a path … I have two young nieces and when they’re of age to play for Australia, it could be their full-time job. It is super exciting.”
Robinson paid tribute to the Wallaroos who had come before her, and Albanese also made a point of mentioning Australia’s pioneering women’s rugby players.
“I want to congratulate all the trailblazers, who have made this possible, who negotiated and organised and sacrificed to make this all come together, to achieve this agreement,” Albanese said. “Quite often, as in other parts of life, the people who have been at the forefront aren’t the people who will receive the benefit.”
Marinos said Rugby Australia and RUPA worked to map out a considered path to Australia’s 15s women becoming fully professional.
“This is acceleration towards a fully professional set-up, and making sure we do it systematically by achieving better contracts for the girls but also improving the high-performance and the coaching environment that is going to underpin and support the girls, to make sure we are giving ourselves the very best chance when we got to these big tournaments,” he said.
“The acceleration, if it can come quicker, absolutely. It is going to be a big call out to corporate Australia and all of our partners to get behind the girls and the program we are putting in place. If you look at what we did with sevens, starting the journey in 2013 to where we are now, 10 years later, it has been annual improvement and annual growth. We had to build a commercial program and sponsorship to underpin it, and come on the journey with us.”
Marinos said the next big step was building up Super W to be a longer competition, hopefully by combining with New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aupiki.
With Eddie Jones in the audience, Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan and Marinos said the goal is for a full-time Wallaroos squad to win the 2029 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
Sports Australia chair Josephine Sukkar wiped away tears as she watched Albanese and his dog Toto chat with Wallaroos players and sevens star Madi Levi. Ahead of the 2017 Rugby World Cup, the long-time women’s rugby backer admitted to being “terrified” Wallaroos players would get hurt because they mostly played club rugby.
“I cannot believe how material the change has been since 2017, when the girls were heading over to Ireland for the World Cup and they hadn’t played a single Test match since the previous World Cup,” Sukkar said.
Young Wallaroo Piper Duck said investment in women’s rugby would not only help fight off cashed-up rival codes, it would inspire new generations of talent.
“Now we can get a reward for all the hard effort we put in, and money is actually been invested into us – even being invited here to Kirirbilli House today – it just adds so much excitement for us, and acknowledgement for what we do,” Duck said.
“And it shows that people are respecting the effort we are putting in. The more time and money and resources put into women’s rugby, the more girls know it is an option for them. Because as a lot of the girls say, you can’t be what you can’t see.”
Watch all the action from the Six Nations with every match streaming ad-free, live and exclusive on Stan Sport. Round 1 kicks off this Sunday 12 February with Ireland v France (1:05am AEDT), Scotland v Wales (3:35am AEDT) and England v Italy (1:50am AEDT).
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