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June 9, 2011
FLTLT Margie Quinn could not
have been prouder.
Last year she was one of
only five female players Air
Force could muster for the Australian
Services Rugby Union (ASRU) car-
They had to join forces with Navy
to field a team against Army. It was to
no avail though: Army won. Again.
This year, however, Air Force had
12 players for the carnival and was
able to field a 10s team in its own
right against Navy on May 15.
With rookie coach OFFCDT
Dan Bligh at the helm, the Air Force
women won 17-12.
"After playing with the Navy for
the past five years, to finally run out
as captain of our own Air Force team
for the first time was an amazing
experience," FLTLT Quinn said.
But that was not the end of the
FLTLT Quinn was one of eight
Air Force players (co-captain, in fact)
selected in the combined Navy-Air
Force team to try its luck against
Army, which had not been beaten in
the clash since 2007.
That changed on May 21 with a
10-5 scoreline in our favour and a lot of
Air Force merriment that went right to
After last year's carnival, CAF
AIRMSHL Mark Binskin declared
that Air Force's aim was to field a
women's team in their own right at the
It seemed like a tall order at the
time, FLTLT Quinn, doubling up as
the team's manager, and Air Force
Rugby Union set about finding pro-
When those players went into a
DESPITE failing to make a dent at
the Australia Service Rugby Union
(ASRU) carnival in Canberra, Air
Force has nine players in an ADF
squad training for the International
Defence Rugby Competition in New
Zealand and Australia in October.
ADF coach CAPT D.J. Cahill
said CPL Mick Wallace and AC
Adam Dahmer had been added to a
watchlist of about 60 players after
the ANZUS Cup in Brisbane and
the ASRU tri-service carnival in
Already on the list were
FLGOFF Andre Holmes, CPL
Richard Falkenmire, CPL Bodine
Luscott, LAC Aaron Lobendahn,
AC Darren Bruce, LAC Chris
Tuttiet and LAC Alex Chan. The
squad will be pruned to 30 in
August after more fitness tests and
Air Force made a promising start
In its first game, against Navy
on May 15, it only trailed 3-0 at
half-time after having missed three
penalty shots for goal.
But then things went belly-up.
Air Force went on to lose 32-0.
Two days later it lost to Army 74-0,
leaving Army and Navy to play off
for the title. Navy won that encoun-
At first glance things looked
bleak for Air Force. But not so,
according to CPL Bryan Hudson,
who took the coaching reins in
Canberra. "We had eight new play-
ers, with three of them excelling and
being earmarked for future ASRU
caps," CPL Hudson said.
He was delighted with the play
of Air Force rookie of the year
winner LAC Playford as well as
FLGOFF Holmes, CPL Luscott,
LAC Studders and LAC Connolly.
CPL Hudson, who first graced
the field as an Air Force player in
2005, took over the coach's job
from civvie Stuart Lundie who was
in charge at the ANZUS Cup against
the Royal New Zealand Air Force
and the US Air Force in Brisbane
Lundie, who is the set-piece
coach for Norths in the premier-
grade Shute Shield in Sydney, is
now the technical director of Air
Force Rugby Union.
CPL Hudson hopes there will be
a trickle-down effect.
"Next year, with some of this
year's players retiring, I'll be look-
ing to bring them into the manage-
ment and coaching ranks," he said.
"Although the scorelines didn't
reflect the improvement we've
made over the past four weeks. I
was happy given the time we spent
together as a unit and effort the
new players to the side put in dur-
ing both the Brisbane and Canberra
"For me there were a lot of posi-
tives to come out of both.
"With the help of ASRU coach-
ing, I feel we can only improve."
THE REAL DEAL: FLGOFF Andre
Holmes being tested as part of the ADF
squad. FLGOFF Holmes figured in a
photo in the last Air Force News too --
only CPL Bodine Luscott was mistakenly
Photo: AB Dove Smithett
Vanquished but not diminished: men still have plenty to offer
five-day camp on May 11, they had
reason for some pessimism though.
LACW Thelma Gerber, one of the
standout players from 2010, was ruled
out three weeks before the camp with
a shoulder injury and SQNLDR Mina
Roberts was injured playing club rugby
the Saturday before the camp.
"Considering these were two of
our most experienced players, it was
a pretty big blow coming into camp
with only 12 players, only four of
whom had played at the service rugby
level," FLTLT Quinn said.
Two of the newcomers had very
"FLGOFF Rae Lahiff came into
camp with only a soccer background
and FLGOFF Esther Suh ended up
running on as our front rower hav-
ing only discovered rugby in the last
month or so."
OFFDT Bligh was a 21-year-old
who played with the men's team last
year but was unable to back up this
year because of a shoulder injury that
required surgery recently.
"I've always wanted to coach, I just
didn't think it would be this soon," he
said.He was in no doubt, however, that
there were good things ahead.
"We had a successful camp. We
put a lot of emphasis on the 1 per cent
efforts, all the little things.
"Leading into the game against
Navy I felt like we could genuinely take
"The vibe was fantastic and the core
group of players were rock solid.
"We controlled the game from the
start with great direction and purpose.
"The intensity was sensational.
Navy put on a late surge but our girls
executed the plan to a tee and capi-
talised on Navy's errors. The hardest
part of the day for me was naming the
coach's award because all 12 of our
girls deserved it for such a brilliant
effort throughout the camp (consider-
ing we trained twice a day for two
to three hours apiece with NO com-
"But it went to aggressive back-
rower OFFCDT Kate O'Brien.
"Kate played in the second row
and was a pillar of strength in the set
Her jumping was so on-song that
she grabbed every lineout bar one."
The Player's Player award went
to SGT Clare O'Driscoll, "who really
locked down our midfield both in
defence and attack", hotly followed
by versatile CPL Rebekah Allen,
who played at various times scrum-
half, centre, flyhalf and flanker, and
CPL Brooke Jacoby-Saunders, who
excelled at No. 10.
FOOTYNOTE: This is a story with an
even-happier ending. It had been hoped
the Air Force women could take the
field in jerseys that the Air Force Rugby
Union committee had ordered for them.
Unfortunately the jumpers didn't arrive
in time and the women had to play in
some club rugby jerseys.
"Since we couldn't play in the jerseys,
our patron, AVM Mark Skidmore asked
VCDF to present the jerseys to us at
the ASRU Function on Saturday night
(after we had beaten the Army), which
was great," FLTLT Quinn said.
Aside from more players, the Air Force
team is also looking for a manager.
For information, contact, FLTLT Margie
Quinn on (02) 403 45217 or margaret.
SEVEN Air Force women
were named after the tri-
service carnival in Canberra
in the Australian Services
Rugby Union squad to play in
the national championships in
Queensland in July.
They are FLTLT Margie Quinn,
FLGOFF Gabi Cook, OFFCDT
Kate O'Brien, OFFCDT Sarah
Hume, CPL Brooke Jacoby-
Saunders, CPL Rebekah Allen
and LACW Brimlea Smyth.
A year ago, CAF declared that Air Force would field its own women's rugby team
this year. Against the odds, that was achieved ... and more, as John Martin reports.
clipping from Air
Force News on
June 10 last year.
RISING STAR: Coach's pick OFFCDT Kate O'Brien is lifted by FLTLT
Margie Quinn, front, and OFFCDT Sarah Hume. Photo: LAC Bill Solomou
SEVEN Air Force women
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