Meet Ellia Green (and Gold)
By Rachel Freeman
It was the friendly deed of driving her cousin to a Rugby Union talent clinic that kickstarted Ellia Green’s stellar career.
Arriving late to the Australian Rugby Union Pathway to Gold Talent ID camp in Melbourne in 2012, Ellia’s cousin had begged her to join her on the field.
Within moments of completing jump and sprint tests, it was clear to selectors that this random shoe-in was made for the game. The 21 year old was invited to progress to the Development Camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. She was then chosen to represent Australia at the second round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Houston, Texas, thanks in part to her sprinting background.
But it wasn’t that simple. A big decision had to be made.
“Athletics had been my dream since I was six years old, so it was all very strange for me. I was aiming to represent Australia at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games,” Ellia told Sportette.
Ellia was at a crossroads having worn the green and gold for Australia in the 100m, 200m and long jump at the World Junior Championships and an IAAF series. She found herself torn between continuing with a sport that she had dedicated more than half of her life and being drawn towards a sport that was offering her immediate opportunities like world tours and Olympic representation.
After much soul-searching and lengthy discussions with family and friends, Ellia decided that the adrenalin, atmosphere and camaraderie of the team sport simply could not be matched by the solitude of athletics.
She promptly swapped the track for the field and with that came a whole new world of contact sport. So new, in fact, that Ellia admits she wasn’t entirely familiar with the game.
“I’d seen it in the Commonwealth Games before, but apart from that, it was really the first time I’d been involved in the game.”
Now on an intensive eight-week pre-season training schedule, life is very different to what it was previously. A typical training session begins at 8am with medical examinations and physiotherapy, followed by fieldwork from 9.15am. Twenty minutes of rugby skills is complemented by 40 minutes of conditioning which involves a 1.6km time trial and three 800m time trials.
Ellia and her QANTAS Women’s Sevens team are currently gearing up for the Gold Coast Sevens where they will be competing against international teams in a three-match series.
It will be the first time in the event’s history that women have been included and Ellia thinks it is about time that her chosen sport had a stint in the spotlight.
“We’re number one in the world this season, yet nobody seems to know about it,” Ellia told Sportette.
“It’s so crazy. We’re professional athletes, we’re all contracted and the skill level is the same.”
Ellia’s speed and skills have led her to be compared to Wallabies star Israel Folau, hailed the “Female Folay”. She’s humble when it’s brought up in this interview, having played only two games when the article described her as such but she believes that it is positive coverage such as this that is pushing women’s sport forward.
With the inclusion of Women’s Sevens at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, there is renewed hope that it won’t be long until it garners the attention it has been craving for so long.
“Kids will be watching, it’ll be on the world stage. It’s going to be huge. Even now, there are a lot of juniors getting involved in the sport. It can only get bigger!”
Although Ellia’s own introduction to rugby union was unconventional, it is one she now can’t imagine her life without. She counts her teammates as family members and says the sacrifices are worth it for the chance to achieve her dreams.
“Its everything I want in a sport. Sprinting, kicking, ball skills. It’s just so fast and exhilarating.”
For someone with so much energy and drive, it is hard to imagine anything getting in the way of Ellia’s rise to the top.
“We do everything the guys do. We’re at the top of our game. Why wouldn’t you watch us?”
It is tough to argue with such blatant logic. Then again, she is a tough woman playing one of the country’s toughest sports.
Follow the QANTAS Australia Women’s Sevens
Gold Coast Sevens, Queensland
CBus Super Stadium
Coral Coast Sevens, Fiji
Laqawa Park, Coral Coast