Interviewed Thursday 1 May, 6pm.
The Halley Appleby Memorial Scholarship was established in 2012, and is awarded to a single UQRFC player who is not a student at the University, but rather an apprentice or trainee who currently plays for the UQRFC and is a proven team player, just as Halley was.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself, and your apprentice/trade
I’m Alex Bannon. I’m 28 years old and now a qualified plumber. I was an apprentice last year. I started playing for UQ three years ago. And that’s pretty much all I do – work and play football (haha). Juggling my apprenticeship and playing footy was really hard because it’s really physical, but it’s a good balance. Being a plumber gives me the strength to play footy. All day I’m digging holes in the ground, shovelling 20-30 wheelbarrows of dirt, every day. Then I come to training, so it’s a long day, but when I go to play footy on a Saturday I feel pretty fresh.
2) As the second ever recipient of the Halley Appleby Memorial Scholarship in 2013, and the first ever women to receive the award, what did it mean for you and your rugby experience at UQRFC?
The Halley Appleby Memorial Scholarship helped me a lot, actually. It gave me that bit of financial assistance that helped me enjoy my rugby a lot instead of stressing about it. I was able afford my fees and gear, and I even used it to play some rugby overseas. It was just so helpful.
3) How did it feel to receive the award at the Halley Appleby Memorial Ball I 2013?
Yeah, it was good. I was really nervous. When I was younger I played sport and a high level and received different awards before, but this was really special. It’s something that I really love. I stood up in front of 800 people and was able to accept as the first women and it was awesome.
4) The Scholarship is based on being a “proven team player”, just as Halley was. What makes you a team player at UQRFC?
It took me about 1-2 years to get used to rugby, but I love playing now. I don’t care where I’m playing on the field, as long as I’m playing. That to me is teamwork. I’ve been around football before, and there’s no other team like UQ, especially that supports the Women’s team as much as they do. They get involved, and the boys and the club are all really friendly, so it’s good.
5) What would you like to tell fellow apprentice/trainees who want to play rugby at UQ and apply for the Halley Appleby Memorial Scholarship?
I’ve never seen any Scholarship like it for rugby. Any “tradie” would know just how hard it is to get by, let alone making it to football and games on Saturday, with all the gear you have to buy. It’s an amazing opportunity shown by the Club. It’s under very sad circumstances, but it’s a great thing that everyone can be proud of now.
6) Who are the people who support you in your rugby?
Everyone around me is supportive of me, now. My family, and especially my friends, like the girls I play with. Once you get that team vibe it’s always very supportive. I played rep footy (for QLD Women’s fifteens) last year, and I don’t think I would have been able to without the support of the scholarship and the Club. All of Halley’s family have been supportive. Gary and Sue, and his close friends who said ‘Hi’ to me at the Ball and that was unexpected, but I really appreciated it.
Alex is a full-time plumber and plays in the front row of the UQ Women’s rugby team. 2014 is her 4th season at UQRFC.