The Bremner family trophy cabinet is bursting at the seams with the awards, medals and accolades that come with having two Black Ferns in the family.
But for rugby superstars Chelsea and Alana Bremner, their 2022 Rugby World Cup medals are nestled right alongside their first big awards – their Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon medals.
"Mum's still got all the medals and the photos," says Chelsea, 28. "We did five Tryathlons when we were kids and she's kept it all."
It's the Kiwi-est of sporting starts, and for the super sisters, who grew up in the tiny town of Little River (about an hour outside of Christchurch), sport has been the thread that's bound them as they pursued their own passions – with elder sister Chelsea only starting to play rugby in her early 20s!
"I think it was the weekend after my 21st birthday when I made the switch from netball," recalls Chelsea. "Alana asked me to come along to her Lincoln University game. I was really nervous and hesitant, but I played one game and I absolutely loved it. And here we are!"
Adds proud sister Alana, 26, "She was awesome right from the get-go. I grew up playing rugby with all the boys – there weren't many girls in our age group. I can imagine coming across into a male-dominated sport must have been daunting, but these days, it's so different. There's so many people backing women's rugby now to make it so inclusive."
The sisters are as close as you can get and have played alongside each other for years – although last year was their first time lining up against each other, with Chelsea making the move north to play for the Chiefs Manawa from the South Island's Matatū Super Rugby Aupiki teams.
But they're also best mates off the field. In fact, they've bought a house together, have each other's backs and still enjoy hanging out as much as they did when they were kids.
"We had the best childhood together," recalls Alana. "There was no competitiveness really because we were playing such different sports. Well, there was competitiveness, but not with each other!"
Adds Chelsea, "We did all the sports that were available really. We just wanted to be outside in the country. We'd do time trial races around the house with our brother Michael and muck around in the backyard."
Alana nods, "It probably didn't hurt that on the farm we lived on, we didn't have reception – if we wanted to message our friends or anything, we'd have to run up the hill! We got pretty fit from that."
The training looks different these days, with both sisters committed to their Super Rugby Aupiki and Black Ferns workouts. But what hasn't changed is the sisters' unconditional love and support, despite their differences.
"We're really similar, but then really different, if that makes sense!" says Chelsea. "We look similar, and we have the same morals and values, but we have quite different personalities. We shared a room until I was 18 and Alana was 16, so we've definitely grown together. I'm definitely louder!"
"Whereas I'm often mistaken for the older one," Alana says. "I'm a bit more serious, maybe?"
Chelsea agrees, "She's the captain – she's an amazing leader."
They also love to dabble in different side hustles too – Chelsea, a trained primary school teacher, has recently got her celebrant licence and is looking forward to marrying couples, while Alana, who trained in agribusiness and marketing, loves photography and is keen to grow her skills.
But before any of that, they'll be putting down their clipboards, cameras and even their black jerseys to offer inspiration to the next wave of superstar Kiwi kids who will be participating in this summer's series of Weet-Bix Kids' Tryathlons, an event close to their hearts.
"We love the Tryathlons," says Alana. "We know exactly how the kids are feeling – it can be daunting and scary, but it feels so good when you cross that finish line.
"It's a Kiwi institution and it was a massive part of our childhoods – we'd drive into Christchurch, stay at our grandparents' place and get ready for the race in the morning together. It's a pretty cool full-circle moment for us to be handing out the medals at the end now!"
And who knows – perhaps some of this year's awards will be displayed alongside future Rugby World Cup gold medals too!
For more information, visit tryathlon.co.nz
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