Pioneer and high-performer in women’s rugby

Tanya Osborne has been inducted into the Queensland Rugby Hall of Fame with the late Graham Cooke (represented by Jim Lucey, left) and World Cup winner David Wilson (right). Picture: CONTRIBUTED.

The proud induction of Cunnamulla-raised Tanya Osborne into the Queensland Rugby Union Hall of Fame was perfectly timed with a major boost for women’s rugby.

Her induction on 16 February in Brisbane coincided with a $3 million injection into the women’s game from Rugby Australia to lift the number of top tier contracts for Wallaroos and raise investment in Super W.

Ms Osborne was a pioneering player who helped lay the pathway in the women’s game in the 1990s. Her on-fields exploits as a skilful and crash-tackling centre won her renown for the Queensland Reds and Wallaroos.

She was also a founding member of the first women’s rugby team established by the Roma Echidnas in 1994 before heading to Brisbane.

Ms Osborne, the late Graham Cooke and 1999 World Cup-winner David Wilson were the three Queenslanders named to join the QRU Hall of Fame at the Season Launch Long Lunch at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

She worked as a postie delivering mail on a motor bike for a time in Roma. She fielded congratulations from as far afield as Charleville, Cunnamulla and Roma.

“It’s such a positive to hear of more backing for women’s rugby as well as the specific facilities for Queensland’s top women’s players now Ballymore has been redeveloped,” Ms Osborne told an audience of more than 500.

“Ozzie” Osborne was raised in Cunnamulla in outback Queensland.

She initially played rugby league until the Roma Echidnas women’s hooked her passion for rugby. The team would drive nearly two hours for the closest game in Toowoomba in those formative days. The young Ms Osborne was a force even then, scoring six tries in one game.

Ms Osborne headed to Brisbane to advance her rugby. She was a member of the Queensland team that played against an international rival for the first time in 1996 when the Canadian province Alberta visited Ballymore.

Her toe-poking style as goalkicker also contributed heavily to scoring in the same year when Queensland went undefeated through the National Championships in Sydney.

She made her Wallaroos debut the same year against New Zealand’s Black Ferns to launch her Test career.

The peak was representing Australia at the 1998 World Cup where she scored a try to help down Scotland in the Plate final.

“Ozzie never drank alcohol so she was the one supporting us off the field as well when some of us got a bit emotional at 3am,” laughed former teammate Jodie Moore.

Ms Osborne’s love of the game flowed beyond club, state and international duties because she represented Army rugby as a No.8 when 48.

She was an artillery private at the Enoggera Barracks at the time.

“So many great memories from all my teams and I got to finish with a tour of Tonga with the Army team,” Ms Osborne said.