Rugby heavies in town
WALLABIES’ coach Robbie Deans and Australian Sevens coach Michael O’Connor will be in Coffs Harbour today to assess the pool of emerging Indigenous player talent which will be on show at the annual Ella Sevens tournament at the BCU International Stadium.
The seven-a-side tournament is the marquee event for the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, an organisation which is dedicated to promoting Rugby Union to young Aboriginal men and women and increasing participation in the sport.
The Ella Sevens, named after the heralded Wallaby brothers Mark, Gary and Glen, is celebrating its biggest turn-out to date since its inception in 2008.
With a record $33,000 in prize money up for grabs, 32 teams will compete in the men’s competition for a first prize of $10,000 while 11 women’s teams will be chasing $5000.
National Sevens coach O’Connor says he is especially keen to uncover boom players in a Commonwealth Games year.
“There’s every chance fresh, exciting talent will emerge at the Ella Sevens,” O’Connor said.
“We’re always looking to invite new players to try out for the team at AIS Sevens camps and we’re trying to increase the player pool as much as possible, especially being a Commonwealth Games year.
“It’s a great opportunity this weekend for the players, Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is going to be there along with assistant coach Jim Williams.
“If there’s anything out of the box, we’ll certainly be on to it straight away.”
The famous Ella surname is sure to attract the attention of the national coaches – and the champion bloodline will be on display across the tournament.
Glen’s son, Daniel Ella, will feature in the reigning champion Sydney Skindogs side, cousins Steve and Greg Ella will front up for the Central Coast Pelicans and Glen’s nephew Richard Williams will play for the Narooma Rugby Sevens team.
“Well they’ve certainly got strong Rugby genes don’t they, so we’ll certainly factor that in,” O’Connor said.
The Sydney Skindogs, Redfern-based side Waterloo Storm and Ballina’s Nothern United are shaping as the teams to beat in the men’s competition, while Bowraville, is tipped to showcase some exciting, unbridled talent.