By Chris Ford
They are the reigning Olympic champions but the Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens team are desperate for Commonwealth Games Gold on home soil.
Women’s Rugby Sevens will make its debut on the Gold Coast with the Men’s competition first introduced in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Australia’s 13-strong squad features eight players who won Olympic Gold in Rio de Janeiro two years ago with Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams again co-captaining the side.
Australia kick off their campaign on Friday April 13 against Wales before facing off against the old enemy, England, in their second Pool B clash.
Tim Walsh’s side wrap up the Pool Stage against Fiji on Saturday evening, with the top two sides progressing through to the Quarter-Finals.
A finals clash with arch rivals New Zealand is on the cards while Canada and England are also in contention to top the podium come Sunday April 15.
Australia have been in scintillating form heading into the Commonwealth Games following a sensational win in Sydney during the most recent leg of the Sevens World Series.
In a first for the Rugby Sevens Series, in either the Men’s or Women’s competition, Australia kept all oppositions scoreless on their way to the Sydney Sevens crown while remarkably scoring 213 points of their own.
Sydney Sevens was the second leg on the 2017/18 Sevens World Series following the season opener in Dubai in December last year.
The Australian Women were successful in the United Arab Emirates as well after defeating USA 34-nil in a one-sided Cup Final.
Australia currently sit top of the Sevens World Series standings with a ten-point buffer over New Zealand and Canada who are in second place.
The Commonwealth Games will be the final tournament in charge for coach Tim Walsh who will transition to the Men’s Rugby Sevens program.
Walsh has led the side for the last five years and has clinched Olympic Gold as well as a World Series title.
Australia’s side will have plenty of vocal support in the stands with eight Queenslanders in the squad, including star playmaker Charlotte Caslick who will be aiming to replicate her Olympic Games heroics.
It’s been a rapid rise for the Australian Women with many becoming household names after standing atop the podium in Rio de Janeiro.
The squad have led a rugby revolution for the next generation of Australian women with their success helping launch two new national female competitions.