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Aussie rules' loss is rugby's gain

By Jordan Hughes 

Sophie Holyman is the type of natural athlete who fills mere mortals with envy - she excels in any sport she turns her hand to.  

Growing up on a wagyu cattle farm in Tasmania, pursuing AFLW would have been a natural fit, but her decision to go with rugby has been a win for Bond University.  

Holyman, 24, moved to the Gold Coast in 2013 where she was introduced to the game at Marymount College. 

“I didn’t even know what rugby was when I first got here,” she said. 

“After the first few sessions, I instantly fell in love with rugby.” 

She was scouted to Bond University’s Rugby Club by former England sevens star Ben Gollings, who saw her potential.   

The Bull Sharks’ women’s sevens program was just getting underway following the introduction of the AON Women’s Uni 7s. The game was gaining in popularity in Australia thanks to the national team’s gold medal at the Rio Olympics. 

Holyman quickly adjusted to the new level and gained selection for the inaugural AON tournament in 2017, going on to be a consistent performer over four seasons.  

Bond won Gold Coast bragging rights in the international competition in 2021, thumping Griffith University 29-7. 

“That was seriously one of my greatest sporting career moments,” she said.  

“It was so special, we were close for so many years and were coming off two years of finishing seventh. After not living up to our potential, to finally execute was unreal.” 

Since then, she has been no stranger to adversity having to fight through a number of setbacks to transition to the 15-a-side game for the Bull Sharks. 

Sophie suffered four hamstring injuries, a stress fracture in her pelvis, cartilage damage in her wrist and a serious ankle injury. Her tenacity shone through when she returned to play for the University before earning her Queensland Reds debut in the Super W tournament. 

“To overcome the amount of injuries I had and then come back from long layoff to make my debut for the Queensland Reds as starting No.8 was super special.” 

Sophie was one of nine Bond University women’s players who featured in the Reds Super W campaign this year. 

Growing up, she was heavily involved in a number of sports including basketball, AFL, athletics and surf boat rowing, represeting Queensland at nationals.  

Outside of rugby she works as a disability support worker. A former colleague at a café presented her with the rewarding career change.  

“I just gave it a go and loved it. To have a job where you finish at the end of the day and you’ve made someone else’s life better - it’s just the best feeling. 

“There is never a day where I wake up and I don’t want to go to work. I really can’t see myself doing anything different,” 

Sophie’s positive outlook stems from her childhood.  

“I had a tough upbringing, had some challenging experiences but I’ve always been super goal-driven and if I want something I will go get it,” she said.  

Sophie is now focused on getting her body healthy and helping the Bond University women take out this year’s Queensland premier competition.

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