Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens team members, Alicia Quirk and Rhiannon Beyers will return to the UNE  for the third season of Australia’s elite women’s sevens competition.

UNE Lions Program Manager Mr Tom Bower said he is excited to welcome back Olympic gold medallist, Alicia Quirk, and local rugby 7s product and now Aussie 7s representative, Rhiannon Byers into the green and black of UNE.

“Having Alicia and Rhi with us in 2019 is a massive boost to an already strong squad. Alicia has one of the best rugby brains in the game and has the composure to match any elite athlete. Rhi was amazing for us last season and earned her call up into the Pearls through her passion, commitment and drive to achieve her dreams. She is one of the most powerful players in the country and we’ll be excited to unleash her in round one of the Aons.”

UNE Lions coaching staff in 2019 is headed by Dutch International and former Waratahs vice-captain, Inge Visser. The staff includes former Wallaroo, Tui Ormsby, Winter Olympian and National Strength & Conditioning Coach Emma Lincoln Smith and Former Sydney Swans Strength and Conditioning Manager and UNE High-Performance Manager, Matt Pine.

The team has had a busy lead up to the 2019 season with over 100 girls expressing interest in the competition. The final squad has been selected with UNE Students and NSW Country girls getting their chance to showcase their abilities on the National platform. One player returning after a massive 2018 season is Maya Stewart. In 2018 Maya was new to the game of rugby and trialled for the UNE Lions to try a new sport. Fast forward almost 12 months and Maya has now represented Australia in the World Schools Sevens as well as the Waratahs in the SuperW. Maya helped the Waratahs claim the premiership for a second year in a row.

Bower said the UNE Lions provides a genuine pathway to national squads for UNE Students and NSW Country girls.

“UNE is the only regional university that participates in the Aon Uni 7s. The girls are spread right across NSW Country and make massive sacrifices to attend training camps and events. Seeing players like Rhiannon Byers and Maya Stewart work their way through club, UNE and then onto national squads, gives girls in the rural NSW an opportunity to chase their dreams of representing Australia and potentially winning Gold at an Olympics.”