Bond University and Sports Gold Coast have joined forces to sign-up world champion rugby Sevens player and coach, Ben Gollings, to spearhead the growth and development of Women’s Sevens on the Gold Coast.
Gollings will take on the position of Head Coach and Regional Sevens Coordinator, which will be jointly funded by the two organisations and based at Bond University Rugby Club.
In addition to coaching the burgeoning Bond-based Women’s Sevens team, Gollings will focus on implementing a structure and plan for a regional Sevens competition, identifying and nurturing talent (both players and coaches) in the community and creating a pathway for an elite national team.
Gollings remains England’s highest capped Sevens players and captain, having represented his country in both Sevens and Fifteens for over a decade, and setting two world records for conversions in Sevens and being the highest points holder in Sevens history.
Sports Gold Coast Chairman, Geoff Smith said Gollings’ appointment was timely and strategic.
“The success of the Aussie women’s rugby Sevens team at the Rio Olympics has really shone a spotlight on the sport, and we are keen to capitalise on the momentum it has created at a grassroots and community level,” Smith said.
“With rugby Sevens being the fastest growing female sport in Australia and so many talented players based locally, the time is right for Women’s Sevens to really take-off, and there is no better base than the Gold Coast.”
Bond University Director of Rugby, Sean Hedger, said Gollings’ appointment was a real coup for the region.
“Ben is one of the most high-profile, well respected names in World Sevens, and we are very fortunate to have him,” Hedger said.
“He has experience at all levels of the game from coaching youth, women and men from grassroots to elite and has been involved in World Cups, World Series, Youth Olympics, Commonwealth Games, England Premiership, Super 14, NPC, Provincial and Invitational rugby.
“The Gold Coast is already home to a large contingent of well-credentialed women’s rugby players and Sevens coaches who would love the opportunity to train with, and learn from, a world-class player/coach the calibre of Ben.”
Gollings said he was relishing the opportunity to become involved in the growth of Sevens nationally.
“Sevens is experiencing massive growth internationally and it’s a real privilege to be part of the Sevens scene in Australia,” he said.
“Sports Gold Coast is an organisation of astute local business leaders who are passionate about the support and development of the Gold Coast’s sporting culture, so when you team that with the world-class, high performance facilities of Bond University - and its stable of specialist Strength and Conditioning Coaches, researchers and academics – you have a really powerful combination.
“Having access to this level of community and industry support, facilities and expertise geared towards elite athletes will enable us to create a powerhouse for Women’s Sevens on the Gold Coast.
“Our aim is to help develop the sport at a community level by encouraging more girls and women to participate in Sevens. From this solid base, we’ll be in a strong position to identify talent and create a pathway for their development as they leave school and look to become elite professional players.”
Throughout his 13 years of international playing experience, Gollings competed all over the world and gained considerable knowledge of different playing and coaching styles and cultures.
“My coaching experience with the Chinese Women’s Sevens team, various US-based national championship teams and the Sri Lankan Rugby Football Union has given me a broad and diverse skills set to bring to the role, including great hands-on coaching experience, a solid understanding of high performance and development pathways and managerial skills,” he said.
“My first taste of rugby Sevens was as a teenage schoolboy at a national competition in the UK, and it played a large role in my becoming a professional rugby player.
“What I have always liked most about Sevens is the space and the pace. You have to think quickly, move quickly and with fewer players, you have more room to move and the freedom to express yourself more on the field,’ he said.
Ben’s wife Lauren is a Gold Coast local, and together with their children Amelia, Woody and Rocco, they are very happy to be putting down roots in the area.
“What I look forward to the most is being able to support the players, coaches and teams to get the very best out of them, see them grow and reach their full potential,” he said.
“This role will give me the chance to develop the game I love – and what better home base could there be than the Gold Coast.”