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Star on the rise: Australia’s Ruby Nicholas ‘not as scared’ on SVNS Series

By Finn Morton
Ruby Nicholas of Australia runs the ball on debut at the Hong Kong Sevens. Picture: World Rugby.

Teenager Ruby Nicholas doesn’t look out of place on the HSBC SVNS Series. The Aussie debuted on the circuit at last month’s prestigious tournament in Hong Kong China and has gone on to impress during a promising start to her career.


Nicholas wasn’t originally included in Australia’s star-studded squad for the Hong Kong Sevens but an ankle injury to Heidi Dennis changed everything. Coach Tim Walsh called the 19-year-old to tell her she’d be playing that weekend.

The debutant intended to compete in the Shogun 10s before receiving the chance to wear the coveted gold jersey on the international stage. It was a dream come true, it seems, in more ways than one as well.

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Not only was Nicholas in line to debut on one of the biggest stages in SVNS, but the Aussie would also be entering the fray of international rugby alongside her hero. As Nicholas told in April, she had idolised Charlotte Caslick growing up.

While captain Caslick led the Aussies to a win over SVNS Perth winners Ireland on the opening day, it was Nicholas who had the final say. Nicolas scored her first try on the Series with a runaway effort at Hong Kong Stadium with time almost up on the clock.

Kaitlan Shave, who also debuted on the Series this season, was seen yelling at the try scorer and pointing towards the posts before running over to embrace her teammate. Bella Nasser wasn’t too far behind in celebrating the effort.


But that was just the beginning.

Australia missed out on Cup final glory at that event but had a chance to make amends of sorts less than a month later. But with no Caslick and veteran Sharni Smale in the squad for Singapore, others like Nicholas had to step up.

“(Coach Tim) Walshy always reassures us that he just wants us to do our job and there’s actually no expectations on us,” Nicholas told RugbyPass at Singapore’s National Stadium.

“He knows he’s throwing us into the deep end so he just wants us to have fun and have a go and just gain some experience, especially leading up to the Olympics because you never know what could happen.”

Nicholas was used as an impact player off the bench during the final regular season event of the campaign. Coach Tim Walsh called on the teenager to come off the pine and Nicholas tended to deliver by making her mark.


The No. 23 scored Australia’s final try in their pool stage 27-10 win over Brazil and backed that up with a couple of try assists against Great Britain later on the first day. Nicholas could’ve potentially scored herself but “my Dad would’ve killed me” if it didn’t come off.

“I’ve had a few moments where I have gone myself and it hasn’t worked out so I just wanted to be sure and just give it to the girl that knows best on the edge,” she explained with a smile.

Tia Hinds, Bella Nasser, Teagan Levi and the always-dangerous speedy duo of Faith Nathan and Maddison Levi were among the other players who impressed in Australia’s road to the Cup final at the first-ever women’s Series event in Singapore.

New Zealand stood in the Aussies’ way of not only winning their first Cup final since December, but it was also a winner-takes-all for the League title with both teams locked on the same number of competition points.

Nicholas came off the bench late in the piece and looked to make a difference against an in-form Black Ferns Sevens outfit which included the likes of Jorja Miller, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, Risi Pouri-Lane and Michaela Blyde.

But it wasn’t to be with the Black Ferns Sevens winning relatively comfortably 31-21.

With the Grand Final in Madrid coming up in just a couple of weeks, and also the Paris Olympics in July, there are still plenty of positives coach Tim Walsh can take out of that Singapore experience.

With the Australians also losing stand-in skipper Madison Ashby to a knee injury, as well as youngster Lily Dick, more inexperienced members of the squad stepped up and made some positive steps forward.

That, of course, included Ruby Nicholas.

“I felt more confident definitely more this time,” Nicholas had explained.

“Playing my first tournament kind of got the jitters out… the girls have been really supportive helping me get through it just with the little things.

“Definitely feeling more excited to play.

“I can just take it all in because my first tournament I was just getting to know the ropes of it and now I know a bit of what I’m doing,” she added.

“It’s just enjoying it more. (I’m) not as scared.”

It all comes down to this with the best teams on the SVNS Series set to battle it out for the overall title in Madrid on May 31 to June 2. Tickets for the final leg of the season can be bought HERE.


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