MAKING HISTORY: Water Rats women (front, from left) Leanne Brown, Sam Burton, Carly Cooper, Tiff Cullen, Eloise Wiles, (back) Kirra Dennison, Lisa Croft, Lauren Quinlan, Jayde Ware, Emily Ranger, Tshinta Kendall and A-grade men's coach Vlad Savovski.
MAKING HISTORY: Water Rats women (front, from left) Leanne Brown, Sam Burton, Carly Cooper, Tiff Cullen, Eloise Wiles, (back) Kirra Dennison, Lisa Croft, Lauren Quinlan, Jayde Ware, Emily Ranger, Tshinta Kendall and A-grade men's coach Vlad Savovski. Gerard Walsh

Rats to field women's side in Downs rugby

RUGBY UNION: History will be made when Warwick fields a women's rugby union team in the Darling Downs Sevens competition this season.

The first trial game for Warwick will be at Gatton on March 18.

Warwick has 16 women on the team list and 11 were at the first training run on Thursday night.

Lauren Quinlan has played A-grade rugby league in Brisbane and could be one of the trump cards.

The main rugby experience in the team will come from recruits from Scots PGC which plays sevens rugby on a regular basis. One of the students hails from South Australia, an area where AFL is more the rage than rugby union.

Carly Cooper, who played for Queensland Country in interstate cricket in December and has also played polocrosse for Queensland, was one of the players at training, along with Leanne Brown who was an outstanding long distance runner while a student at Warwick State High School.

"I want to wear number three,” Cooper said in reference to the number her father, Tom, wore in a long career with Warwick and to Queensland Country level.

Water Rats men's coach Vlad Savovski also took the women under his wing on Thursday night.

"We are really happy with the interest in the women's team,” he said.

"A coach for the women's team will be appointed in the next month.

"During fixtures, we will often have two games for the women over two seven- minute halves. One game will be between B and A grade men's games and the other after the A grade.”

Warwick will play B grade in the men's competition this season, with UQ Gatton playing A grade on the same program.

Last weekend, Warwick fielded a men's team in a 10s pre-season competition in Toowoomba and Savovski said there were encouraging signs for the team.

"We have four or five new players who showed a bit of promise,” he said.

After winning one of the team awards in 2016, inside back Tom Winter from Scots PGC will play B grade again.

Josh Sharman will be the team goal kicker for a second season.

Savovski will play prop again and his younger brother, Anthony, will be starting hooker.

Jacob Wilton, who graduated from Year 12 at Scots PGC last year and is currently working in Warwick, will start at loose head prop.

"Our team is predominately players under the age of 24 and we promise the fans there will be plenty of attacking rugby at home games at Risdon Oval this season,” he said.

Warwick lost its three games in the 10 comp but most of the games were against A-grade strength teams and Warwick is only playing B grade.

There are a number of men's trial games planned in the next month, including a game against Kyogle from 6pm Friday at Risdon Oval.

There will be free admission to the game on Friday night against a New South Wales-based club which will play a rare game against Warwick.

The Water Rats are planning junior rugby union after Easter at Risdon Oval which could involve Water Rats and Scots PGC players training together.

The first competition games for men and women will be on March 25 against USQ at Gatton.

More players are welcome at training, from 6pm Tuesdays and Thursdays at Risdon Oval, or phone Savovski on 0421981970.



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