Red's Doctor loves the team environment

Sat, 11/09/2021, 12:30 am
Oceania Rugby
by Oceania Rugby
Dr Daelyn Cullen QLD Reds Team Doctor & World Rugby Medical Educator
Dr Daelyn Cullen QLD Reds Team Doctor & World Rugby Medical Educator

Growing up with four brothers in a rugby-mad New Zealand family, Daelyn Cullen never really gave gender equality in sport a second thought.

To her, it wasn't an issue.

Being a woman in a rugby environment was neither an advantage or disadvantage – as long as you knew your stuff.

"I come from New Zealand where we grow up watching rugby and know rugby, we don’t think twice about potentially being accepted or not being accepted," she said.

"I don't think whether you are a male or female makes any difference.

"If you are confident in what you do and enjoy what you do, there isn't the bias we think there is.

"Sometimes it's your own inherent bias."

Cullen is a trained orthopaedist but decided hospital life wasn't for her, moving into sports medicine and taking up a job at Western Australian club Nedlands in 1997.

That led to a stint as the Western Force's match day medical officer where, one season, she tended to players' needs while pregnant with her first child.

Cullen has been the Queensland Reds team doctor since 2017 and one of the most respected medicos in the Oceania region.

"It wasn't about making money for me - if it was I would have stayed in hospital – it was about being involved in sports teams," she explained.

"Rugby union is one of the best sports for men and women. It’s a real team environment whereas in a lot of other sports you've got your heroes and your superstars.

"In rugby union, everyone has to play their part. If they don't, the team doesn't do well."

Cullen's role with the Reds continues her involvement with men's teams, although one of her most cherished moments is working as a tournament medical officer when Australian won gold in the women's 7s at the Rio Olympics.

She said: "Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I have to work in women's sport.

"I can relocate any shoulder or relocate a hip and tend to a broken leg, whether it's 140kg Taniela Tupou or a half-back.

"The team has confidence that if anything happens on that rugby field, I will be able to fix it."

Cullen is spreading her knowledge through the Oceania region, conducting trauma courses for match-day doctors and medical staff through World Rugby training and education programmes for Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby.

She finds it an extremely rewarding experience.

"Four times a year Oceania Rugby has us travel to Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and (around) Australia and we teach how to treat acute trauma on the rugby field," she said.

"I go over and teach the (predominantly) male doctors and physios in Fiji, where it's quite a patriarchal society, and they take that (a female instructor) fine.

"I'm there to help educate and assist in how to manage a spinal injury on a rugby field and they are appreciative and such a wonderful group of people to work with."

Asked her advice for women looking to enter rugby in an off-field role, Cullen replied: "Work out a role that suits your skill set and get involved at a community level.

"I think you've got to have that community rugby background to thrive in a professional environment.

"But whatever level it is, you won't regret getting involved."

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