CHELSEA Devenish is a young woman of many talents.
After touring the United States with fellow students from the New England Girls’ School (NEGS) Equestrian Centre in March, the Scone-raised teenager will try her hand at a different sport this weekend.
Devenish, a Year 11 boarder at the Armidale educational facility, is expected to run onto Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
There, she’ll join her 7’s teammates to play in a curtain-raiser to the Waratahs and Brumbies Super Rugby showdown.
“I am originally from Scone and began my education at Scone Grammar School, which I attended until Year 7,” Devenish said.
“Since then, NEGS has offered me a great opportunity to further my knowledge [of horse management and training], as well as other avenues.
“Girls’ rugby is just another of those paths.”
Until late last year, NEGS had never considered union in its slew of extra-curricular offerings.
However, when the school trialled the sport for the girls, the massive surge in popularity resulted in not one but two coaches brought on to facilitate the increased numbers.
And, the recent news that the newly-formed rugby 7’s team has been invited to Sydney to go head-to-head with a second regional independent boarding school has been a further cause for celebration.
“This will be the first time in history that two regionally-based independent schools will come together to play against each other at Allianz Stadium,” NEGS principal Mary Anne Evans said.
“You can see the excitement spilling over into all parts of the school.
“Female participation in rugby isn’t and shouldn’t be an exclusively male domain.
“We believe in giving our girls every opportunity possible, including lifting females into a traditionally male-dominated sport.”
NEGS has since committed to investing in significant infrastructure to accommodate the rapidly-increasing player participation and recently signed off on the building of a new state-level standard rugby field, meaning they will be able to host professional tournaments, for themselves and visiting schools and clubs in the region.
“It’s brilliant to see just how supportive and excited the fathers and the brothers of the girls are,” head coach Mark Flynn said.
“Most will travel many hours so that they can be in the crowd for an eight-minute game.”