‘It’s a weird story’: Dietrich Roache’s ‘surprising’ SVNS fairytale
Dietrich Roache’s ascent to Australian sevens stardom is an oddly relatable, candid and passionate tale that certainly has the makings of a SVNS fairytale. Even if it’s just a little bit, every rugby fan will see themselves in this story.
Just like you reading this now, Roache was once a fan of rugby union. After playing league for a couple of years as a teenager, Roache was invited to the 2018 Sydney Sevens by his father.
That enthralling tournament at the Sydney Football Stadium in late January changed Roache’s life forever, with the youngster falling “in love with the sport straight away.”
Roache decided to devote himself to an intense two-year training period in the hopes of one day following in the footsteps of his rugby heroes on the world stage.
Week after week, month after month, Roache worked tirelessly by playing in “every domestic tournament I could.” Eventually, it all paid off.
Just like the great sporting fairytales around the world – like Tom Brady persisting in the face of doubt and scrutiny to win seven Super Bowls or even Eddie the Eagle’s appearance at the Winter Games of ’88 – Roache defied the odds to turn his dream into a reality so soon.
By his own admission, even Roache was surprised with how quickly the opportunity to don the iconic gold jersey of Australia after being offered a contract in 2020.
“My Dad actually invited me to go watch the Sydney Sevens in 2018 and that’s where it started for me. I pretty much fell in love with the sport straight away and I got to work pretty much from there,” Roache told RugbyPass earlier this month.
“It’s a weird story because some people take their whole life (achieve) something like this but I was lucky enough to work hard enough to get an opportunity to sign my first contract at the start of 2020.
“Definitely surprising how quickly it came. In my mind, I was honestly thinking four or five years, and that’s the time limit… hopefully I can make it.
“I got the opportunity quicker than I thought. I was just grateful that I had a great support system that kept me grounded and kept me working hard because I was always told, ‘Once the opportunity comes you better be ready and if you’re not there might not be another one.’
“That was always in the back of my head. I didn’t know when the opportunity was going to come but when it comes I’ve got to make sure I’m ready. I’m glad I was ready.”
At just 22 years of age, Roache has already established himself as a young leader within an Olympic-bound Australian men’s seven side. But the young Aussie is hungry for more.
In a testament to his character, Roache has a relentless determination to not only compete but shine on the SVNS circuit – you can see that every time he takes the field around the world.
Sporting what’s becoming a somewhat iconic black headgear, Roache has a knack of scoring tries for fun and he’s also a hard-hitting defender when called upon on the other side of the ball.
With Roache preparing for his third season, the Aussie is channelling the lessons from a “tough” 2022/23 campaign which saw him fall victim to a notorious sporting plague.
“I’m happy but I’m just probably not satisfied yet. I think I can do a lot more,” Roache added.
“Especially just me comparing my first year to my second year, it’s quite tough to say, quite tough to admit but that second-year syndrome crept in a little bit for me and I felt like I let myself down a bit.
“This third year coming up now for me is just a big one where I really want to go further than I went and I don’t want to be taking steps back. Definitely happy but not satisfied.”
As a debutant who was still very green on the international sevens stage, Roache debuted in Aussie green and gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
The “heartbreak” from that disappointing campaign is fuelling the team going into another Olympic year, with the Paris Games waiting patiently on the horizon for the sporting world.
But after a gruelling preseason, and with the new-look SVNS circuit waiting for the 12 best men’s teams in the world, the Aussies are raring to go – and so is Roache.
“It was just a tough preseason. I’m pretty sure we started with 16 players and by the end of it there were just a lot of injuries and that.
“It wasn’t easy what the coaches have put us through, they’ve really tested us physically and mentally, but I think the biggest thing they told us was you’ve got to understand sevens is pretty much putting yourself in a hole and you’ve got to find a way (out).
“The whole preseason, with how hard the training was, the whole mantra was pretty much, ‘Just find a way to get through and we’ll be fine.’ That was what we went off.”
Roache is certainly living his dream. Named in the Australian select squad for the 2023/24 season, Roache will help kick-off the SVNS party in Dubai this weekend.
The SVNS series will also go to Cape Town, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong China, Singapore and the Grand Final in Madrid.
Roache is already an Olympian and World Series champion, but the opportunity to push for even more accolades awaits.