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'Was in my bed crying': Why Aussie 7s ace thought his career was over at 16

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Darby Lancaster’s rise to World Series stardom with the Australian Sevens team is a story of grit, resilience and passion.


Injuries are a part of sport, but that doesn’t make them fair. As a teenager, Lancaster was crying in his bed “just thinking my career was over” after tearing his ACL.

Lancaster had just moved from Kempsey in the Mid North Coast region of New South Wales, to prestigious private school Scots College in Sydney.

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It was the opportunity of a lifetime – but again, injuries aren’t fair.

The rising star tore his ACL when he was just 16, and feared the worst for his career moving forward.

“That was a tough point in my life. To me, rugby’s everything, I love rugby, I’ve loved it since the day I was born,” Lancaster told RugbyPass.

“I remember the night I did it, I was in my bed crying just thinking my career was over and that was it for me.

“I looked at the statistics and it wasn’t looking very good, only this whatever percentage of players get back to their best.


“I feel like I’m pretty close to my best now, I do things differently to how I used to but different might not necessarily be worse. Change is good.”

But after a “tough” 15 months on the sidelines, Lancaster worked his way back to the rugby field – and was given a full-time sevens contract less than a year later.

Lancaster had been working with the Waratahs Academy when he was surprised with the opportunity to sign a core contract with the sevens program.

“I was doing a bit of work with the Tahs Academy and I think one day they called my parents,” he added.


“I remember the bloke, he pulled me out of training once and said, ‘We’re gonna sign you.’

“I remember getting into the meeting, they’d rumoured sevens or maybe a mixed (deal) and I sat down in the room and they said I was going to be in the core group of sevens.

“I was blown away, to be able to turn around so quickly from not playing at all and thinking my career was over to be in the core, full-time sevens gig was absolutely a dream come true.”

Lancaster made his debut on the Sevens World Series during last year’s leg in Malaga, Spain.

Since, the rising star has simply been getting better each and every time he dons the coveted gold jersey.

The Australian, who is the youngest player in the squad, has been named in the team for the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens this weekend.


Lancaster has played in Hong Kong once before, but “copped some studs to the face” during the second match which “put me out for the tournament”

“It’s an absolutely unreal tournament.

“That south stand is pretty crazy so it’s going to be exciting to play in front of that again.

“Obviously Sydney for us is the one we really want to do well at, but Hong Kong with such a crowd, it’s such a festival of rugby.

“So many people around and such big crowds. It’s really something you want to do well in.”

Lancaster has been included in a star-studded squad for the Hong Kong Sevens, which includes the return of captain Nick Malouf from injury.

The Hong Kong Sevens will take place from Friday March 31 to Sunday April 2.


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RUGBYPASS+ One last banquet awaits 'Guzzler' at the Rugby World Cup One last banquet awaits 'Guzzler' at the Rugby World Cup