Just a little over one year after the Australian Women’s 7s team celebrated their Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics Closing Ceremony, a national competition will kick off featuring many of the Olympic champions.
The ARU today announced details of the AON Women’s 7s Series which will commence with a two day tournament at the University of Tasmania on August 25 and 26 this year. In a ground breaking initiative, the ARU are partnering with Universities across Australia to deliver an elite level national 7s competition.
The eight competing universities will be the University of Canberra (ACT), University of Adelaide (SA), University of Tasmania (TAS) University of New England (NSW), Macquarie University (NSW), Bond University (QLD), University of Queensland (QLD) and Griffith University (QLD).
Sydney’s Macquarie University will host the next two-day tournament, which will coincide with the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship derby clash between the Macquarie University Sydney Rays and the Western Sydney Rams, for a veritable festival of explosive running rugby.
Next up the teams will travel to the University of Queensland in Brisbane for the penultimate tournament, which will take place alongside the annual ‘Emmanuel International Sevens’.
For the all-important final tournament, the teams will again converge in Queensland at Bond University on the Gold Coast where they’ll be joined by crowds of other university athletes as the region also hosts the 2017 Australian University Games.
Australian coach Tim Walsh is eager to see new talent come through the system including athletes from sports other than rugby.
“Our Rio team was made up of plenty of amazing women who used to play other sports,” he said. “If you can run fast, catch and have plenty of determination, you have the foundation to be a Rugby Sevens champion. We hope to discover plenty of new talent this year, whether they come from a rugby background or not.” “Flying around the country to compete with and against gold medallists is an opportunity that not many athletes ever get, so I’m looking forward to see which teams and which players step up to challenge and make the most of their chance on the national stage.”
The sport has experienced a tremendous boom since the Rio Olympics and the National 7s Series has the chance to further leverage off that success in finding new stars for our national team, while also growing the game at all levels.
States have been working hard in developing their 7s program, with Queensland being particularly active for a number of years, a fact recognised in them receiving three teams in the inaugural competition.
The entire Australian Women’s Sevens squad which features gold medal stars such as Charlotte Caslick, Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Emilee Cherry, Alicia Quirk, Chloe Dalton and Evania Pelite will play in the Aon Uni 7s Series, with every university team to be allocated at least two members of the current Australian squad.
The Aon Uni 7s Series is the first domestic Australian Sevens competition for women, offering the nation’s best up-and-coming talent the opportunity to train and play in a high-performance environment to stake their claims for national selection. The teams will each comprise a mix of students and non-students (with 50% students being the squad minimum and no on-field quota to be employed).
As the Women’s Big Bash League continues to grow, along with the introduction of new netball and women’s AFL products, the series is a critical one in ensuring a pathway for females into the sport.
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