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‘There’s boy Wallaroos’: The ‘special’ growth of women’s rugby in Australia

By Finn Morton
The Australian Wallabies and Wallaroos pose for a combined team photo following the Wallabies Captain's Run at Allianz Stadium on July 05, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Wallaroos are a team trending in the right direction. While it can be easy to focus on their record of one win and three losses to start their 2024 campaign under coach Jo Yapp, the bigger picture being painted is more powerful than any result.


Australia ran riot last weekend in a point-scoring 64-5 blitz of Fiji at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. Winger Desiree Miller stole the show by becoming just the second Wallaroo behind dual international Ruan Sims to score four tries in a Test.

Fijiana had scored first but the result was never really in doubt with 10 minutes left in the first half. The Wallaroos bounced back from their educational World Rugby Pacific Four Series with a masterful performance full of positives.


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But then, as any old rugby game does, the full-time whistle eventually sounds. Once the match stops, opposing warriors exchange pleasantries of congratulations and support in the middle of the field by shaking hands before peeling off into their own groups.

The Wallaroos had plenty of time for their supporters who still had about an hour to wait until the Wallabies match kicked off. Captain Michaela Leonard and coach Yapp were in the press conference room at that point.

With players taking selfies and signing autographs for young fans who just wanted to meet their heroes, it was another moment that showed how far the game in Australia has come. Earlier in the week, the Wallaroos had a similar experience at a fan day.

“It’s one thing to have little girls come up to you and look up to you because we didn’t have that when we were younger, but even the boys coming up and asking for our autographs and photos, it’s just really special,” Desiree Miller told a reporter from each of RugbyPass, and the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It shows that we are a motivator for both sexes and all genders.

“We even have a staff member’s son who says, ‘Oh there’s boy Wallaroos.’ Flips over the Wallaroos [team] sheet to the Wallabies and goes, ‘Oh they’re boy Wallaroos.’

“It’s just really special to know that we’re seen as equal and we’re building together as a country and as one club.”

It was quite incredible to see something similar at North Harbour Stadium on Auckland’s North Shore in the first Laurie O’Reilly Cup Test of the year. Both the Black Ferns and Wallaroos waited around patiently for a good 40 minutes post-game for their supporters.


While even young Kiwi fans were desperate to meet their Aussie rivals that afternoon, the two nations will stand on opposing sides of a rugby field soon enough when their second clash of the year kicks off.

Australia will host their Trans-Tasman foe this weekend at Brisbane’s Ballymore Stadium. New Zealand won in a landslide last time out but the Wallaroos will take plenty of confidence out of their win back at home.

“I guess we just build from here,” Miller said.

“Obviously, New Zealand play a different game and (are) really tough; always put out a physical, fast-moving game.

“I think if we take our confidence and our strengths from this game and work on those little 1 per cent efforts that need improvement, we’ll put up a good stint against New Zealand and hopefully we can hold them out.”

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