First woman to receive USC rugby scholarship

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First woman to receive USC rugby scholarship


10 April 2013

A 20-year-old University of the Sunshine Coast student working to become both a paramedic and a top-level rugby union player will be awarded one of two USC Encouragement Foundation Rugby Scholarships.

In the second year of the rugby scholarships at USC, Erica Fowler of Peregian Beach is also believed to be the first female rugby sevens player in Australia to receive such a sport scholarship.

Tony Riddle, director of Sunshine Coast Rugby Union and chairperson of the Stingrays Club committee, said it was very encouraging for women in the sport.

Erica and fellow USC recipient Luke Kimber, 18, of Eudlo, will attend a presentation at the Sippy Downs campus on Wednesday 10 April.

The Encouragement Foundation funds up to three scholarships a year to help talented rugby union players study at USC and be available to play for the Stingrays at the colts or open level. The scholarships provide $3,000 for each year of a degree.

Erica, currently in her second year of Paramedic Science at USC, graduated in 2010 from Matthew Flinders Anglican College where she was house captain, rugby captain, water polo captain and orchestra captain.

In the past two years, she has played for the Stingrays Women’s Sevens and the Noosa Dolphins Phinettes Women’s team and competed at the Noosa International Sevens and Byron Bay Sevens tournaments. She participated in the Australian Women’s Sevens Pathway to Gold Rio Olympic Trials in October.

Erica said the scholarship would relieve the financial pressure as she juggles her degree, work experience with Queensland Ambulance Service, part-time work with local company ASSIST First Aid and her dedication to playing rugby union “at the highest level possible”.

Luke, who graduated from St John’s College at Nambour last year with an OP5, is in his first year of a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at USC.

He started playing rugby at the Nambour Rugby Union Football Club as a nine-year-old. Last year he captained St John’s First XV to the grand final of B division and co-captained the University Rugby Club’s Under 16-17 team to its grand final.

Luke, who also played in the Stingrays under 17s, said he intended to become a physiotherapist.

The USC Encouragement Foundation Rugby Scholarships are funded by members of the Sunshine Coast Rugby Union community who want to support premier-level Stingrays players who are undertaking full-time study at USC.

— Julie Schomberg

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