World's first all-ranga rugby sevens team steps out at Roma

Sally Gall
By Sally Gall
Updated February 15 2022 - 7:39pm, first published February 14 2022 - 7:00am
Red Hot Chilli Steppers scorch the rugby at Roma

Team names were as creative as some of the plays on the fields at the Santos Festival of Rugby on the weekend but for fiery flair the Red Hot Chilli Steppers burnt all the other competition.

Touting themselves as the world's first all-ranga rugby club, you couldn't miss the two teams, one in the men's and one in the women's competition, when they took to the field in the rugby sevens.

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From strawberry blonde to ginger ninja, they set a scorching pace, the women topping their pool and taking on the local Blood Sweat and Beers team, who convincingly quenched their flame in the semi-finals.

The men's team, which had to borrow a few brown-haired ring-ins, didn't have quite the same raging success, going down to the Swamp Donkeys for a place in the semis.

It was the second major outing for the club, started at the instigation of Queensland women's sevens team member Nat Wright.

According to her mum Rowanne Wright, she knew Meandarra's Penfold sisters of Four Daughters fame from school days and they just decided it would be fun to start a redhead team.

They started an Instagram account to recruit fellow carrot tops and it's sizzled with success ever since.

Making their first outing at the Brisvegas Rugby 7s tournament last November, the women's team won the social competition while the men's made it to the semi-finals.

It was then that they decided their next outing would be in Roma.

"Virtually no-one knew each other in Brisbane," Rowanne said. "Nat was the judge of whether you were ranga enough to join, and there were definitely no fangas, or fake rangas."

One of the Red Hot Chilli Steppers glowing in the sun at Roma.

The group has recruited plenty of professional support since, including former Super Rugby player Ed Quirk, who said in his Insta post that it was "a helluva privilege to be a redhead", thanking the Steppers for creating the awareness that redheads were top of the foodchain.

Fellow ranga, Wallaby player Andrew Quirk sent in a message of good luck before the Roma carnival as well.

The players come from around the Brisbane region and the Sunshine Coast, as well as Molly, Jemima, Bonnie and Matilda Penfold from Meandarra.

Their flushed faces often matched their hair colour over the weekend but the interest in the Red Hot Chilli Steppers' modus operandi is growing by the week, and they reckon it won't be long before you spot them at breathing fire at future tournaments.

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Sally Gall

Sally Gall

Senior journalist - Queensland Country Life/North Queensland Register

Based at Blackall, CW Qld, where I've raised a family, run Merino sheep and beef cattle, and helped develop a region - its history, tourism, education and communications.

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