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February 16, 2012
HER teammates could be
forgiven for hoping that CPL
Rebekah Allen brings large
dollops of success with her
this year when she pulls on an Air
Force women's Australian football
Last year CPL Allen played a com-
pletely different code -- rugby.
And what a year it was. Air Force,
which had not been able to muster
enough players to field a team in
2011, not only fielded a 10s team
that beat Navy, it then combined with
Navy to form a team that beat Army at
the Defence championships.
So why then, having reached
these heights, is CPL Allen, a self-
confessed rugby diehard, quitting the
Um, well she's not.
Get this: she hopes to play both
codes this year.
"The dates clash slightly, but not
enough to impact game days," she
The Defence rugby championships
will be held in Sydney from April
7-15 and the Australian football in
Melbourne from April 10-22.
The Air Force Australian football
team will be based at RAAF Base
Williams at Laverton and will spend
its first week training.
CPL Allen will miss some of that,
but will join the team in time for the
games on April 19 and 21.
She will be a welcome addition.
Last year the Air Force was
soundly thrashed in both of its games
but you can put that down fairly and
squarely to a chronic lack of numbers.
In a game where 22 players is the
full complement, Air Force went in
against both Army and Navy with
15 players (and lost one of those to
injury early in one of those games).
Further, two of the Air Force players
were public servants who had never
played the game before.
That's not to suggest CPL Allen
will be only there to make up the
She is a classy midfielder.
True, she chalked up 12 seasons of
rugby before first playing Australian
football in 2006 but she made an
instant impact. She was coaxed into
the Air Force AFL team in 2006
simply to help make up the numbers --
and was selected in the ADF team on
the strength of her performances.
She played in the Australian
football team again in 2007, 2008
and 2009. In 2009 she played for the
ACT team at the Australian national
championships and was selected in
the All-Australian squad. Civvie, not
Alas, work commitments kept
her from playing for the Air Force
Australian football team the past two
That's probably one of the reasons
she's looking forward to this year's
competition. In fact, so enthused is
WHEN LACW Grace MacPherson breaks the
water of Lake Taupo to start the New Zealand
Ironman on March 3, she can take comfort in the
thought that she has already achieved her sport-
ing goal for 2012.
That goal was to do well enough in New
Zealand to qualify for the world-renowned Hawaii
Ironman in October.
It was never going to be easy. Every year
tens of thousands of triathletes from around the
world try to get one of the coveted spots to swim
3.8km, ride a bike 180km and run 42km -- but
only 1800 succeed.
LACW MacPherson, a reservist with 381
Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron at RAAF
Base Williamtown, is no stranger to Defence
Last year she won the Australian Defence
Sports Triathlon Association (ADSTA) women's
long-course title and the year before she won the
ADSTA women's ironman title.
In December she was part of an ADSTA team
that competed in the Asian Pacific 70.3 half-
ironman championship in Phuket, Thailand.
She only found out three weeks before the
event that it carried qualification for the Ironman
World Championships in Hawaii, aka the Hawaii
Even then, though, she didn't give it much
thought. Hawaii was certainly on her mind for
2012 -- this being her fourth year of university
and the uncertainty of commitments to come --
but LACW MacPherson was counting on a big
performance in New Zealand to get her there.
Wrong. She snatched the qualification in
Phuket by winning in the 20-24 female category
with a time of 5hr 39min 9sec.
"I was really stoked," she said. "It was a sur-
The course in Phuket covered a 1.9km swim,
90km bike and 21.1km run in very tropical condi-
tions. The swim was a magic start in the ocean
with calm conditions around a 1.3km circuit
before a short beach run into a fresh water lake to
finish the last 600m. The ride course took com-
petitors over an amazing course snaking through
the Phuket countryside, cutting through villages,
plantations, tropical rainforest, along beachside
resorts and up some very impressive climbs, two
of which were more than 18 per cent incline on
Army's SGT Pip Holland won the 40-44 female
age championship, covering the course in a siz-
zling 5:03:26 and also winning automatic entry
into the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
It will be the usual busy year ahead for
The Defence sprint and long-course champi-
onships will be held at Huskisson on February 18
On April 15, ADSTA will hold the
Defence National Olympic Distance Triathlon
Championships as part of Dextro Olympic
Distance Race in Sydney.
Then will come the Defence National
Half Ironman Distance Championships and
the Defence National Ironman Distance
Championships, which will both be held at the
Challenge Cairns Festival, Queensland, on June 3.
If all goes to plan and she does the full New
Zealand Ironman on March 3, LACW Grace
MacPherson will only do the half-ironman in
Cairns. She needs to save her energy for the big
one in Hawaii.
For more information about the ADSTA, contact
email@example.com or visit www.adsta.
her way to winning
the ADSTA long-
course title last
year.Photo: LS Kelvin
she that she plans to take annual leave
and pay her own way to Melbourne.
"Swapping between codes was not
as difficult as I first thought it would
be," CPL Allen said, explaining her
dual career (her nickname is 'Bits'.
No surprise there).
"I play openside flanker in rugby
and I'm a midfielder in AFL, so both
positions are extremely physical,
which makes the transitioning back
and forth between the two codes quite
easy in that respect.
"The physical contact in both
games is what I love the most. I do,
however, still kick an AFL ball like a
rugby ball. I am not as accurate as I
would like to be, but as long as I can
get that ball out of the middle to the
forwards to work their magic and kick
goals, I'm happy."
She said the hardest thing to over-
come when she first started playing
AFL was adjusting her tackling style.
"At 157cm tall (and usually the
shortest on the field), I still had the
highest count of high tackles against
me during my first few AFL games,"
she said. "Additionally, any contact
directly into the back of an AFL
opponent is also a free kick to the
opposition, but in rugby you can go
Now the tough bit for Aussie foot-
"As for which sport I love best,
rugby just beats out AFL," CPL
Allen said."I am a Queenslander
through and through so it's what I
grew up with and played from my
late teens. The hits are certainly
harder in rugby than AFL. That
being said, you can be hit from any
direction in AFL with little or no
time to prepare for impact so you
need to be constantly aware and
always ready to cop a bump or tack-
le and react rapidly to the ball and
players around you."
If you are interested in playing for
the Air Force women's team this year,
contact SQNLDR Mina Roberts on (02)
6265 5246 or mina.roberts@defence.
The word 'footy' means different codes to
different people. But this PTI has versatility
at her feet, reports John Martin.
for footyTWO GUISES:
in 2007, above,
and playing rugby
Army last year,
below.Photos: LS Yuri
Ramsey and CPL
CPL Jimmy Galbraith will return
to his old stamping ground in the
Williamtown White Pointers rugby
sevens tournament at RAAF Base
Williamtown on February 25.
CPL Galbraith, of 81WG, is a
rugby convert who played league
last year. In fact, he was man of the
match in a game against the South
Australian rugby league team in
But he has not played club
rugby since 2008 so this will be
somewhat of a homecoming.
It is hoped up to eight teams
will contest the tournament, which
is open to tri-service entry.
So far only Air Force -- three
teams from Williamtown and
teams from Wagga, Richmond
and Amberley -- and two from
the Army base at Singleton have
entered but organisers are hopeful
more will lay down the $55 entry
fee.Games will start around 8am
and continue until mid-afternoon.
"This is the first Defence sevens
competition to be held," CPL Alan
"The aim is to attract more
people to the sport through a fun
day, and also provide a competi-
tive environment for selection
into the Air Force rugby union
team, which is hosting its devel-
opment camp on that weekend."
For more information, contact CPL
(02) 4034 8774.
Williamtown prepares for sevens heaven
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