Springbok Women Sevens speedster Megan Comley wants to contribute to the growth of the South African women’s game on and off the field.
Rugby wasn’t Megan Comley’s first love. Growing up in Durban, she pursued a career in athletics and was a 200m specialist at national level. However, she soon found out that it was with the oval ball in hand when she really excelled.
The 29-year-old experienced a late introduction to women’s rugby in 2013 and was encourage to give it go. It proved to be a positive life-changing decision as she surged through the provincial and national ranks over a short space of time.
“I really enjoyed athletics, but as I got older, I realised that there wasn’t much opportunity for me to prove myself at the highest levels. I was then introduced to rugby and remember how quickly I fell in love with the game,” Comley tells MyPlayers. “There was something about the pace and intensity that inspired me to play. And ever since day one, I never looked back.”
After short stints at the Sharks and Lions, Comley ended up joining the Blue Bulls in 2014. A year later, she starred for the Pretoria-based team during their title-winning run at the women’s provincial sevens tournament and was rewarded with a national call-up. In November 2015, the Springbok Women’s Sevens offered her a full-time contract.
She made her international debut at the 2016 Hong Kong Sevens, which proved to be a monumental moment for women’s rugby. The Springbok Women’s Sevens team upset the competition favourites to claim the title, becoming the first South African sevens team – male or female – to win a tournament on Hong Kong soil.
“That’s a memory I will never forget. To play in a final and win an amazing game of rugby in front of 70 000 people was a special occasion for all of us. It was heart-warming to be part of such an amazing moment for South African rugby,” says Comley. “It proved that we have improved a great deal over the past few years. The players and coaches have put in a lot of work to ensure we drive South African women’s rugby in the right direction.
“A big positive is the fact that we have so many talented young players joining the senior team, which creates quality depth. This will ensure we can compete against the top teams throughout the season, and not only at once-off tournaments.
“Our main aim is to work ourselves up the ranks and to become a regular competitor on the world stage. There’s so much great potential for women’s rugby, especially at the major international events like the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. But we need to earn our right to be there.”
While Comely is fully focused on contributing to the team’s future goals, she also hopes to play an influential role of introducing women’s rugby to more girls, especially during life after rugby.
“I’m a qualified personal trainer, so I want to have a career in sport after rugby. I’m also interested in getting a qualification in education, so I can help develop the youth. The studying discounts and benefits through MyPlayers is definitely something I’m considering,” says Comley.
“I believe youth coaching is very underrated in South Africa. We need more focus on grassroots level – boys and girls from the ages five to 18, because that’s the most important development phase of a sports professional’s career. Talent is great, but you need improve skill and mindset while they’re still young.
“I’d love the opportunity to showcase women’s rugby to more girls one day. When I was young, I never knew that there were rugby opportunities for females. I want girls to realise that there’ more to sport than just hockey and netball. I want them to realise that they can become full-time professionals if they pursue a career in rugby – like I have achieved.”
By Gareth Duncan