The University of Canberra sevens team will call on Ash Kara to lead their title bid, but a former dancer who turned down a performing arts scholarship looms as the spark for the competition's inaugural season.
Kara, the daughter of former Waikato Chiefs player Kevin Kara, will captain the Canberra side at the first series of the women's university sevens tournament on Friday and Saturday.
She will guide a group of young players into the unknown, including Royals duo Darcy Read and Sarah Carter who are still riding high after premiership success.
Read was named the Canberra rugby grand final most valuable player after scoring a double in Royals' triumph against Tuggeranong last weekend.
The 20-year-old has walked an unconventional path to a rugby career, trading her life as a contemporary and ballet dancer for big hits and tries.
Read competed in Glasgow three years ago at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival and was offered a scholarship to the Victorian College of Arts.
"I was meant to go to VCA and study dance, but I decided to change to exercise physiology and rehab at the University of Canberra and continue with my rugby," Read said.
"I decided dance wasn't really where I wanted to take my career ... I'm not sure if [dance] helps with rugby. It probably does [in some ways]."
Canberra coach Dave Grimmond has picked 12 girls, including Read, Carter and Australian sevens representative Cassie Staples for the two-day tournament.
Canberra will start its season against the University of Queensland before playing against Bond University and the University of New England on the opening day.
The eight-team competition will be played across four rounds, with the last to be played on the Gold Coast at the end of September.
Australian sevens skipper Sharni Williams is expected to return for the series on September 9-10 after she completes her World Cup campaign with the Wallaroos.
Carter is an Australian oz-tag representative, but made the switch to rugby when she was at St Clare's College with Read.
"I basically went along to school gala days just to get a day off and from there I got selected in Brumbies schoolgirl teams and moved up," Read said.
"Right now we're focusing on our goals as a team and if [individual] selections come from that, it will be good. It should be a really strong competition with all of the Australian girls coming in as well."
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S SEVENS SERIES
Friday: University of Canberra v University of Queensland at 2.40pm, University of Canberra v Bond University at 4.40pm, University of Canberra v University of New England at 7pm. All games at Launceston. ???The tournament will be streamed live on rugby.com.au.
Saturday: Schedule to be finalised after results from day one.
University of Canberra squad: Kiahan Bellchambers, Sophie Broadhead, Sarah Carter, Regan Hart, Ash Kara (C), Sammy Maxwell, Yasmin Meakes, Darcy Read, Cassie Staples, Janina Strauts, Talei Wilson, Sammie Wood.
The story Dancers and oz-tag stars set for rugby sevens initiation first appeared on Brisbane Times.