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‘It’s a weird story’: Dietrich Roache’s ‘surprising’ SVNS fairytale

By Finn Morton
Australia men's sevens player Dietrich Roache. Picture: World Rugby.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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“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.’

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“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.

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“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.

Australia were beaten by New Zealand and Argentina in pool play, and were knocked out of medal contention in the quarterfinals by eventual champions Fiji.

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.

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“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.

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Rugby 1 hours ago
How Queensland Reds can spark Schmidt's Wallaby revolution

interesting. I did see last year Queensland and Brad Thorn use some bokke moves like the 6-2 bench and a move the bulls did in bringing back the tap and go from 5 out instead of the line out and maul. There can be many errors in a lineout, you loose control esp. if ref calls a borderline not straight, jumping across line, etc etc it is out of your control, then the maul, a few rules can mess you up again in the eyes of a ref, or others, you lose control. At least in a tap and go you control the move and the play, just have to 1. catch the ball and 2 watch the jackling from opposition, 3 watch being held up over try line. WAY to go I reckon. *2024. Tap and go 5 meters out.* The axis is key for Queensland, Wallabies and any union team. Get it right and there is magic. Lynagh McDermott (great cricket name) Wilson So Joe Schmidt will be watching and the Pacific Lions coaches are in Melbourne watching, poach city. I think if Q can get the Kiss of life not the Kiss of death they may well unlock that stacked backline. Vunivalu is improving. Kiss (and Brad Davis, Jonathan Fisher, Zane Hilton and Dale Roberson) and the progressive attacking style may work. He loves coaching. No pressure. Hell he knows the Bokke and Ireland, and time with ulster. Based on his league past he will understand how to break this flat line. He is a hands on skill set coach. One thing I am still waiting to see in union is the skill often shown in league, when 5 meters out they can *kick into the post* get the deflection and wrong foot opposition to score. Good Luck Queensland, hope you do well. They have the Hurricanes next Bula

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