“We could definitely deck them out and help them get to the Sydney Sevens to show we appreciate them.”
Williams’ childhood town of Batlow, west of Canberra, was deemed “undefendable” before at least 20 houses, the local petrol station, farms, orchards and livestock were lost in a major blaze earlier this month.
“It was heartbreaking … I felt really helpless,” Williams said. “I kept checking my phone to see where the fire was at. I kept messaging my parents to see if they had heard anything because they had evacuated to Junee. People stayed back to fight the fire. It was pretty full-on.
“I didn’t know what I could do or how I could help. That’s why I started the GoFundMe page to give back to the town.”
Williams’ GoFundMe page has raised more than $25,000 which will go to directly to the community as it begins to pick up to the pieces and rebuild.
“The farmers are pretty devastated … it’s going to take five to 10 years for that to re-establish,” Williams said.
RA is donating $5 from Sydney Sevens ticket purchases over this Australia Day long weekend to aid the relief and recovery effort in affected towns.
“I’m super proud to be a part of Rugby Australia, especially when they take on board these initiatives,” Williams said. “I think that’s really important to give credit where it’s due and that’s to the firies that have been fighting day in, day out.”
Meanwhile, World Rugby will also donate $500 per try scored by the Australian men’s and women’s team at the upcoming event. It comes after members of both squads agreed to donate $500 out of their own pockets for each time they cross the paint.
RA boss Raelene Castle said: “The Sydney Sevens is one of the most popular events on the summer sporting calendar in Sydney and we want to use the event to generate as much support as possible to help those affected by the bushfire crisis.”
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald