By Rachel King
Australia’s gold-medal winning Women’s Sevens team received yet another award today when they received Order of Australia medals in the Australia Day honours list.
The Olympic and World Series champions were included for their ‘services to sport’ rounding off a triumphant twelve months for the squad.
The team became Australia’s first, men’s or women’s, to win a Sevens Series championship last May, ending New Zealand’s three-year grasp on the title. Just months later, they came face to face with the Black Ferns yet again, beating them 24 – 17 to take gold in last year’s inaugural Olympic final.
On the honour, star Alicia Quirk said: “We’re really proud we can, in our own way, have this recognition and give something back to the community and share in that same passion and love of sport that all Australians do, so it’s a very special honour.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of young girls and their parents that say their daughters are now playing rugby and really interested into it.”
Rugby pioneer and LGBT advocate Andrew Purchas also received an Order of Australia medal for: “Services to rugby union and to the promotion of social inclusion for LBGTI people.”
Purchas founded the Sydney Convicts, Australia’s first Gay and Inclusive rugby team, in 2004 and has been involved with a number of anti-homophobia and inclusion initiatives including the ‘Homophobia? Knot me’ rainbow laces campaign.
Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said: “I have worked with Andrew many times over the years and have seen his passion around the need to change sporting culture to make it more inclusive of LGBT people.
“He has been instrumental in Australian rugby’s adoption of policies and programs to address homophobia and ensure everyone feels safe, welcome and included to play and enjoy our sport.
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“He is completely deserving of this honour and I offer him Australian Rugby’s most heartfelt congratulations.”
Former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns was also recognized, being named as a Member of the Order of Australia for his charity work. Kearns founded the charity event Balmoral Burn which has raised more than 27 million Australian dollars for childcare charity The Humpty Dumpty Foundation.