SportQueanbeyan Gift at Queanbeyan town park. Women’s heat 2. Kayla Sadler, Sophie Broadhead, and Stephanie Power21 November 2015.photo: Rohan ThomsonThe Canberra TimesSophie Broadhead is hoping speed on the track helps the former Queanbeyan Gift champion find her feet in rugby union after taking the first steps in her sevens transition.
Broadhead made her rugby debut in Tasmania at the opening series of the inaugural Australian University women’s sevens competition.
The 26-year-old was part of the University of Canberra squad which finished sixth at the two-day event, with the second series to be played in Sydney on September 9-10.
Broadhead charged to victory at the Queanbeyan Gift two years ago, claiming a $12,000 winner’s cheque and setting herself for a successful athletics career.
But Broadhead says constant stress fractures in her feet forced her to quit the sport and she has turned to rugby to fulfil her competitive desire.
She was the leading try scorer in the Canberra women’s league tag competition earlier this year, but only played as “a bit of fun” with friends from work.
Rugby looms as a more serious avenue if she can make her mark given sevens is an Olympic sport and the Australian women’s side is the defending champion.
“This weekend was my first tournament playing rugby,” Broadhead said.
“It’s a bit of a change. I come from a background in touch and there is a lot more support in rugby sevens and it’s growing, so I thought I’d give it a crack.
“It’s quite similar to touch, and then you combine the athletics aspect as well with speed … it might be a good combination, but we’ll see how it goes.”
The Canberra side won just one of three games on the first day of the two-day tournament in Tasmania after being drawn in the same pool as two Queensland powerhouses.
Canberra lost its opening game against the University of Queensland 22-7 and then fell against Bond University 24-5.
They bounced back to beat the University of New England 17-7 and then toppled the University of Tasmania 19-12 on Saturday.
It set up a re-match against the University of New England in a battle for fifth place, but Canberra lost 20-12.
“I think we drew the hardest pool by far and the first two games were a bit of a shock to the system, but it was a learning curve and we got better as [the series] went on,” Broadhead said.
“We hadn’t really played together as a team yet, so it takes a bit to learn how each other plays.”
Broadhead, an Australian touch under-18 and under-20s representative and part of the Australian Youth Olympics team for athletics, hopes the weekend will fast-track her development.
“There’s a bit more room to move in sevens and with an athletics background, that helps,” Broadhead said.
“I had never-ending stress fractures because of the hard track in athletics, so I’ve pretty much given that up and I’ll see how I go in rugby.
“I didn’t know what to expect. So it’s just all a massive learning curve for me.”
AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY SEVENS ROUND ONE
Friday: University of Queensland 27 bt University of Canberra 7; Bond University 24 bt University of Canbera 5, University of Canberra 17 bt University of New England 7.
Saturday: University of Canberra 19 bt University of Tasmania 12; University of New England 20 bt University of Canberra 12.