Wauchope Thunder president Paddy Bowen coaches NSW Country women to inaugural Chikarovski Cup success

Winners: NSW Country women's coach Paddy Bowen and Shaun McCreedy with the Chikarovski Cup. Photo: Josh Brightman/Balanced Image Studio
Winners: NSW Country women's coach Paddy Bowen and Shaun McCreedy with the Chikarovski Cup. Photo: Josh Brightman/Balanced Image Studio

NSW Country women claimed their first Chikarovski Cup title on November 15 with just one solitary training session the day before the competition kicked off.

Wauchope Thunder president and NSW Country coach Paddy Bowen instilled a steely defensive resolve with the girls conceding just five tries in three games.

A 39-7 win over Sydney Gold was their most complete performance in the final.

It followed a 31-5 victory over an ACT President's XV and a 24-15 success against Sydney Blue in their first match of the campaign.

Bowen said it was satisfying for the team to progress one step further than they did 12 months ago.

"Last year we were there or thereabouts and lost one and won one; we've always been in the mix, but never gone all the way," he said.

"It was nice to finish it off and do it pretty comfortably."

Access to better resources paid dividends with most men's competitions being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was a blessing in disguise really because all the resources and attention got put into the women," Bowen said.

Finally: NSW Country claimed their inaugural Chikarovski Cup on Sunday. Photo: Josh Brightman/Balanced Image Studio

Finally: NSW Country claimed their inaugural Chikarovski Cup on Sunday. Photo: Josh Brightman/Balanced Image Studio

As a result, the team benefited from the knowledge shared with them by men's coach Shaun McCreedy and former player Matt Waterford.

"They held the players to a higher standard and told them some cultural things that are unique to country men's rugby and brought them over into the women's program," Bowen said.

"They talked about what it meant to be a country player and what is synonymous with country rugby like resilience and physicality and we took that onto the field."

Bowen admitted his team had arguably the worst preparation out of all the teams, but their success came from what was implemented off the field.

"Country always go in as underdogs; the country junior girls have made the national schoolgirl finals every year and people still underestimate us.

"We're fine with that because it's the Australian way - everyone loves an underdog."

Mid North Coast products Peta Salter and Candice Clay were part of the team, while Wauchope Thunder's Sam Porter was a standby player.

Peta Salter. Photo: Josh Brightman/Balanced Image Studio

Peta Salter. Photo: Josh Brightman/Balanced Image Studio

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