Grace makes rugby history

The Nedlands Rugby Union Football Club junior has been tackling stereotypes ever since she started playing rugby at just four years old.

“I like that I’m treated equally, that I’m one of the boys,” the 11-year-old said.

“But I’m really hoping more girls will join so we can all play together.

“This year is the first time women’s rugby sevens is going to be in the Olympic Games and one day I want to play in the Olympics.”

Grace and the Neddies team went undefeated in December to win the under-11s competition at Centaurs International Youth Rugby Union Tournament in Singapore.

Grace was also selected in the under-11s team that won RugbyWA’s Road to Rio rugby sevens tournament and the WA under-12s rugby league team that competed in national State titles last August.

Grace’s mother Tina said she was incredibly proud of what her daughter had achieved in both rugby league and union.

“Playing rugby gives her so much confidence, she has no problem about putting her hand up for anything,” Mrs McFillin said.

“Mixing it up with the boys, just because she’s out of her comfort zone, has given her that.

“Personally, for Grace, she has two older brothers so anything that they have done, she has always tried to do better.

“It reminds me there is such a thing as a glass ceiling, and I think girls are smashing through it more and more every day.”

Mrs McFillin said the stigma attached to girls playing rugby was unfortunate.

“Grace has never been injured playing rugby but there is no doubt it’s a contact sport,” she said.

“The better training and coaching kids have, the better chance they have of avoiding injury in any sport, not just rugby.

“RugbyWA is looking at continuing the girls’ development training this year where they incorporate things like nutrition, attitude; mind as well as body. It doesn’t matter what your body shape is, how fit or fast you are, this game accommodates everyone.”