ANYONE who has faced the Bathurst Panthers women’s league tag team knows that Claire Woolmington has the ability to tear apart a defensive line, but now she is proving just as big a threat in another sport.
The CSU women’s rugby union side is also benefiting from Woolmington’s speed and ability to find the line.
In her last two games for the students before the June long weekend bye, the CSU centre ran in eight tries to help her team to a 29-22 win over Mudgee then 76-0 thrashing of the Dubbo Kangaroos.
Woolmington is still lining up for Panthers - a team she scored 31 tries for last season – and playing netball as she has done in the past, but her first foray into union is one she is clearly enjoying.
“I’m loving every minute of it, it’s a completely different sport but I’ve just taken to it, it’s been a great experience so far,” she said.
“Uni had asked me to play for them for a couple of years, I’d always been real hesitant because I had basketball as well. But this year I thought I’d give it a crack and it hasn’t been too bad.”
While admitting she was “a bit hesitant on the tackle” to begin with, Woolmington no longer has those reservations. She is still learning the nuances of union, but having played women’s tackle in league in the past has helped with the transition.
“I’m still getting used to the positioning, it’s a lot different to league. I sort of float around the field a bit,” she said.
“I think I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but there’s a lot less running than league, getting back on side – it’s a lot easier.
“The contact isn’t as long a distance to get too as well. There’s less time to brace, but less time to run which is kind of in a way harder.
“I think having a big of a league background does make it easier for me and I think for them, it’s nice to have someone that has a little bit more experience than I suppose half our team has.”
Though Woolmington is not the only newcomer to the CSU side, the students have impressed so far this season in the new 11-team Ferguson Cup competition.
They have won seven of their six games, with only undefeated competition leaders West Wyalong getting the better of them.
Amongst CSU’s successes was a 31-24 upset of 2017 Central West premiers, the Bathurst Bulldogs, in round six. Woolmington was amongst those who scored in the hard-fought contest.
“That was an unreal weekend that one. We were talked down pretty much the whole week, when people asked who were were playing and we said it was Bulldogs, everyone was saying that we were going to get smashed,” she said.
“But we just thought we’d go out there and give it a go and yeah, it was nice to win that one.
“The girls have been been playing really well lately, I think we’ve just gelled really good together. The camaraderie around the club is just crazy, every single boy, from first and seconds, they are always there to cheer us on when we run onto the field.
“Having that culture around us, it is so uplifting.”
CSU will continue its campaign this Saturday against Temora in Parkes.