With the Australian Men's and Women's Rugby Sevens teams defending their Sydney Sevens title next weekend, and Super Rugby kicking off two weeks after that, the 2019 Australian Rugby season is well and truly upon us.
With that in mind, RUPA reached out to all of the current and former players on our Board to find out their thoughts on the year ahead; today, we hear from Australian Women's Rugby Sevens Player Director, Shannon Parry OAM.
Shannon, what are you most excited about, from an Australian Rugby perspective, in 2019?
"This season for us is going to be huge, pre-dominantly with (the target of) qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. As a team and a squad, we want to get that locked in and that job done first, so our sole focus is on that.
"More broadly for Australian Rugby, I want to see the game continue to develop and the Wallabies do well, and want to see the community engaged and plenty of youngsters playing Rugby."
Which Australian player(s) are you most looking forward to watching in action this year, and why?
"For me, it is always about seeing youngsters in the community developing their Rugby skills, and we saw that just last week when we had an open training session at Kippax Oval and there were plenty of young girls running around and embracing Rugby.
"From a professional Rugby perspective, I'm really looking forward to seeing Emma Tonegato back on the field this year, she's had a really hard run with her shoulder reconstruction and can't wait to see her carve up, starting in Sydney."
What does serving on the RUPA Board mean to you?
"For me, it's a position I hold with a lot of heart, and I think I am able to represent all women's players and provide a voice for them; it's pretty special.
"A few years ago, women's Rugby was sort of the voice that was never heard in the game, so to have the opportunity to stand up for women's Rugby is really important and without the support of RUPA over the past few years we definitely wouldn't be in the position we are today."
What do you think is the single most pressing issue facing Australian Rugby heading into 2019?
"There's a lot of different issues going on in the game at the moment, but I think ultimately getting the top teams doing well and getting out there and promoting the game in a positive light will help us be able to fill stadiums again, so for me it's about getting out there and making sure we paint Australian Rugby in a positive light every time we set foot on the field."
What is your all-time favourite Australian Rugby memory?
"You can't go past that Gold Medal in Rio, it was a moment that stopped Australia and the way that it helped start a generational change in women's sport and helped society gravitate towards Women's Rugby is something very special."