14 May 2024

Kristy Giteau looks to another challenge as the newly appointed co-president of Rugby Australia

| Tim Gavel
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Kristy Giteau and Soakai, with their three children in December 2020. Photo: Supplied.

Kristy Giteau and Soakai, with their three children in December 2020. Photo: Supplied.

Having responded to the needs and agony of a four-year cancer struggle with daughter Ka’ili’, helping rebuild confidence in rugby in Australia appears to be very achievable for Kristy Giteau.

A force of nature, Kristy established the Win the Day non-profit charity to help families and carers of children suffering from rare cancers.

Ka’ili was just four years old in 2019 when she was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumour — a rare form of cancer in the kidneys.

Kristy recognised a gap in services for families in situations similar to her own, such as the need for meals and accommodation while caring for a young one. From this, Win the Day was born.

Ka’ili, diagnosis and subsequent experiences inspired mum, Kristy, to initiate the charity, 'Win the Day.' Photo: Supplied.

Ka’ili, diagnosis and subsequent experiences inspired mum, Kristy, to initiate the charity, ‘Win the Day.’ Photo: Supplied.

The charity is thriving and, to date, has supported over 200 families. From day one, the rugby community has been a key backer of the charity.

This is hardly a surprise.

Kristy, who played for the Wallaroos, had plenty of support from her husband Soakai, who had a formidable presence in the John I Dent Cup. Also helping out were her mum and dad. Dad Ron played 226 games in the NSWRL for Easts, Wests and the Raiders.

And the link with football doesn’t stop there. Kristy’s brother Matt played 103 tests for the Wallabies, and at 41 years of age, he is still playing in the US. Matt’s older brother Justin is the Raiders’ assistant coach alongside Ricky Stuart.

Matt Giteau

Matt Giteau playing in the John I Dent Cup. Photo: Jaye Grieshaber.

Through these strong family connections, support for Win the Day extended from family through rugby union and broader sports communities in Canberra and Queanbeyan.

With Ka’ili now in remission, it was only a matter of time before Kristy identified another challenge, another mountain to climb.

In Australian sport, at the moment, there aren’t too many bigger mountains than the one confronting rugby in Australia.

Not daunted by the prospect of conquering the sport equivalent of ascending Mount Everest, Kristy put her name forward in January for the position of co-president of Rugby Australia. This is a newly created position for a former Wallaroo to recognise the importance and growth of women’s rugby.

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Says Kristy, “I saw the expression of interest from Rugby Australia seeking applications from former Wallaroos for this newly created role. I told my family that I would regret it if I didn’t apply, and so I did, and it’s gone from there.”

Kristy was appointed at the AGM last week as the new co-president of Rugby Australia, working alongside her fellow co-president, Joe Roff.

Her focus will be on developing the women’s game in Australia.

“I’m incredibly humbled, and I can’t wait to get started,” says Kristy.

“I see it as a connection piece from grassroots to elite. Rugby Australia has made a huge investment in women’s rugby, and there will be growth in that area. I will be working with the players and the new coach, Jo Yapp, to build culture and provide support.”

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But there is more to it for Kristy than developing the women’s game; it’s an opportunity to give back to the rugby community after the support they provided to her while she was struggling following Ka’ili’s diagnosis.

“One group that stood by me when I was doing it tough was the rugby community. When I went through that journey, my relationship with the rugby community was crucial. They were there for me. This role presents a chance to give back.”

When she first raised the prospect of taking on the role, her husband asked where she would find the time.

Kristy says the support of her ‘village’ – her parents, her husband, her three kids, her brothers and the rugby community – will ensure nobody is left behind.

In the eyes of her kids, the role had the potential to be far bigger.

“My kids thought I was replacing Joe Biden.” Different country, but it’s definitely a huge job.

Original Article published by Tim Gavel on Riotact.

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