Siblings eyeing cross-code glory

Brother and sister duo Jacob and Monique Toppin will be playing in grand finals at Wagga on Saturday and Sunday.

Monique and Jacob Toppin’s family will have a busy time of things this weekend, with both siblings playing for grand final glory, albeit on different days and in different sports. 

On Saturday, Monique will be in the starting front row for Wagga Ag College, who take on CSU Reddies in the Southern Inland Rugby Union women’s 10s decider at Conolly Park.

Then on the following day, Jacob is the starting five-eighth for the Tumut Blues, as he and his club shoot for back-to-back Group 9 titles when taking on Gundagai at McDonalds Park. 

Monique said the weekend would be very special for not only herself, but the family. 

“It is so special; not very often do you see two siblings playing two different codes of rugby in a grand final,” Monique said. 

Monique Toppin in action for the Tumut Bulls last season.

The 21-year-old was happy to finally have her time in the spotlight too, after watching on as her brothers played in rugby league deciders in previous years. 

“Growing up, I have always watched my brothers from the sideline, cheering them on, and have rarely had the opportunity for them to watch me in a rugby grand final, as tackle football wasn’t available for girls when I was younger,” Monique said. 

“I’m excited to finally play my game on Saturday with him watching from the sideline, then me cheering him on, on Sunday.”

The representative rugby player couldn’t turn out for her beloved Tumut Bullettes in 2020, as the club had no team, and Monique, who travelled across to Wagga for training and games, said a win on Saturday and a win for her brother on Sunday would make the long year worthwhile. 

“That would be the icing on the cake, it is always good to see Tumut beat Gundagai and to see them go back-to-back and for us to beat the Chalks (CSU) and finally get a premiership would be amazing,” Monique said. 

“All our hard work would finally pay off (after) travelling over to Wagga one to two times a week.”

Jacob said it would be a little different sitting on the sideline on Saturday, watching his sister cop the big hits, but admitted he was very proud of her achievements. 

“It’s a bit of weird one; she has played a lot of basketball grand finals, but to see her taking the hits, instead of the other way around is something different, but I’m really proud of her that’s for sure,” Jacob said. 

As far as his own grand final preparation, Jacob was trying to keep his to a regular routine, although acknowledging it was pretty special to be playing in back-to-back Group 9 grand finals.  

“It was such a surreal feeling to win last year, but to make another grand final is something different,” Jacob said. 

“I’m a bit excited, but trying to keep things simple and not get too hyped up too early; we all know it will be another cracker.” 

Jacob Toppin is looking forward to Sunday’s Group 9 grand final.

Monique and Jacob’s father Robert Toppin, said both athletes deserved the reward of a grand final appearance after working hard to get to this point. 

“It’s just a lot of work that has gone into all of this coming true,” Toppin said. 

“We spent a lot of time throwing balls, catching and kicking and learning all aspects of each game and to get them both playing in a grand final on the same weekend is pretty exciting.

“I will be sitting there with a pretty big smile on my face, that’s for sure.”

This pride was shared by their mother Stephanie Jane, who was just happy that she could see both children play. 

“It’s not very often two siblings would be playing grand finals on the same weekend and in different sports,” Jane said. 

“It is good that they do that and make them different so we can watch both play.”

Jane said it would be a proud moment when both kids stepped out on the weekend, but said she was especially happy for Monique, who would be playing her first rugby grand final.  

“Monique was always dragged around as young child to all the football and now she gets her chance to play in a grand final, especially after Tumut didn’t get a team and all of the extra travel she had to do,” Jane said. 

“It’s just something not many parents go through and it’s going to be a very proud moment.”