Australian Rugby Superstars Visit Laos

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(16 August, 2018) Vientiane, Lao PDR - Olympic Gold Medalist Charlotte Caslick, Australian Men’s National Team Captain Lewis Holland, and Former Australian Women’s National Team Captain Rebecca Tavo are visiting Laos to support the growth of rugby coaches and players in Lao PDR.

Organised by the Australian Embassy in Laos, ChildFund Laos, the Lao Rugby Federation, and Tribe7s, the Australian superstars have been training with the Lao National Teams and supporting the growth of Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back youth rugby in Vientiane Capital and Xieng Khouang Province during their visit.

Charlotte Caslick is an international rugby superstar who won gold at the first-ever Olympic Rugby 7s in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. That year, she won World Rugby 7s Player of the Year. Year after year, she continues to be a standout player and role model for young people worldwide. “I'm really looking forward to working with the team at the Lao Rugby Federation and to supporting the ChildFund Pass It Back program,” said Caslick on her public Facebook profile. “My brother, Sam Caslick, and my mate, Rebecca Tavo, have already spent time in Vientiane helping the Lao national team prepare last year and their reports on the awesome work being done in Laos made me put this on top of my to-do list once we got a break in our schedule.”

Caslick is joined by fellow Australian superstar, Lewis Holland, who is Captain of the Australian Men’s National 7s team. Holland also participated in the Australian squad for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but was forced to pull out with a hamstring injury. He has continued to lead the team through the most recent 2018 Rugby World Cup, and has big plans for the future.

The visit kicked off with a full day of training ac:vi:es in Vientiane Capital. Tavo, Holland, and Caslick led a training clinic for six teams of 11-16 year-old Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back youth rugby players. These young athletes will be using the inspiration and new skills from the training at a tournament in Vientiane this weekend where U16 teams from Vientiane Capital and Xieng Khouang Province will compete against each other. The winning teams will be presented with trophies by the Australian stars themselves, who will be pitch side for the final rounds.

Caslick, Holland, and Tavo also led a training for DAC Lao National Team hopefuls, a pool of elite players who hope to be selected to compete in a number of international tournaments coming up later in the year. Ms. Tavo helped train the DAC Lao Women’s National team last year, alongside Ms. Caslick’s younger brother, as part of a growing rugby relationship between Australia and Lao PDR.

On Friday 17 August, the Australian Embassy in Laos hosted a welcoming event at the Australian Embassy Recreation Facility. Colleagues from ChildFund Laos, the Lao Rugby Federation and the Australian Embassy were able to welcome the international athletes alongside partners from the Lao Ministry of Education and Sport, the Lao Olympic Committee, the Lao Women’s Union and the Lao Youth Union.

Caslick, Tavo, and Holland will depart from Vientiane on 19 August to visit Xieng Khouang, where they hope to contribute to the growth and development of the sport in the lead up to the Lao National Games set to be hosted in Phonesavanh in November, where rugby will be an exhibition sport for the first time. The Australian athletes will spend the first day of their visit in Nonghet District, where they will observe a Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back rugby and life skills session led by local Coaches that helps players learn and practice important life skills centred around rugby’s values.

The following day, they will lead an outreach clinic to share their passion for rugby with new young players and support Lao Coaches in recruiting new players for the upcoming Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back season set to begin later this month. Over the remainder of their trip, the Australian heroes will also enjoy several meals and meetings with Coaches from nearby villages and travel to Paek District to support with further outreach and new player recruitment events.

This season marks an important :me of growth for Lao Rugby; Coaches in Vientiane Capital, Xieng Khouang Province, and, for the first time, Vientiane Province, are in the midst of recruiting teams for the upcoming school year. With more than 40 new teams joining Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back curriculum in Laos, Coaches are working hard to introduce new players to the benefits of the sport. Role models like Caslick, Tavo, and Holland help old and new players get excited about rugby and inspire the next generation of leaders.

We would like to thank our partners including ChildFund Australia, the Australian Embassy in Laos and Tribe 7s for making this visit possible, and for continuing to support the mission of growing the sport of rugby in Laos. We would also like to thank Ms. Tavo, Mr. Holland, and Ms. Caslick for generously giving their time and energy to growing the international rugby family.

Read the full “Australian Rugby Superstars Visit Laos” press release here.