Australia’s women’s Rugby7s team has kickstarted their 2021-22 World Series campaign with a win at the Dubai 7s.
The new-look Australian women’s side, which featured only two players with over 15 international caps experience, defeated Fiji 22-7 in the final to boost the side’s confidence on the pathway to the Birmingham Games.
Two tries to new skipper Demi Hayes capped off a dominate display by the Australians.
After narrowly losing to New Zealand in the final at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and a below expectations finish of fifth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where the side were the reigning gold medallists, there was a changing of the guard in in the lead-up to the 2021-22 World Series campaign.
The change witnessed Gold Coast 2018 silver medallists Ellia Green, Emma Tonegato and Shannon Parry, all move on from the sport, while four debutants were added to the 2021-22 national squad which will make up the basis of the team at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
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The new-look side for Dubai featured nine players with less than 15 international caps, and only four members from the silver medal winning team Gold Coast team, Hayes, Charlotte Caslick, Dominique Du Toit, and Sharni Williams.
But what they lacked in experience, the side made up with youthful exuberance resulting in a commanding three days of competition.
Friday saw the side begin with a convincing win over the USA, 45-5, thanks to a surging opening half with tries to Williams, fifth-gamer Faith Nathan and new captain, Hayes, following in quick succession.
The Americans couldn’t recover.
Next up, in a near flawless display, the Aussies defeated Spain, 34-0, with impact player of the tournament Caslick leading the way with a sterling individual performance.
Saturday morning saw the side overcome a tense opening few minutes to overrun Brazil, 38-5, with Caslick crossing for her 100th try on the world series circuit.
The afternoon provided the biggest test for the young side against the French side, as the two sides battled to-and-fro, it was a Du Toit solo effort try that broke the deadlock, and with a missed French conversion in the final minutes, the Aussies earned a valuable lesson and on to the final.
In the final, the young side put on a clinical display under the Dubai night sky to defeat Fiji, 22-7, in a whole team performance, which kept the Fijians scoreless until the final moments.
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Meanwhile, the fresh Men’s side showed plenty of talent as they secured a fifth-place finish.
This equals the side’s finish at the Gold Coast 2018 Games and betters the side’s seventh place finish at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The early season result leaves the refreshed side hungry to improve the result in Birmingham.
Undergoing a review following the Tokyo Games, the men’s squad now reflects a significant change in the Rugby 7s program structure, with the program set to work collaboratively with Super Rugby clubs to allow players to transition between the two codes of the sport.
This has seen their core full-time squad reduced to just eight players, headlined by Gold Coast 2018 Team Member and Australian vice-captain Maurice Longbottom remaining in the program.
The refreshed side began their Dubai campaign with a resilient victory against Canada, 35-19.
After falling behind in the first half, the Aussies overcame a three try deficit in the second half to run out winners.
Next up the side held off a fast-finishing French side to win their second Friday match, 17-10.
Saturday morning the Aussies faced of against the reigning Olympic gold medallist Fijian side and displayed a promising look into the future, going back and forth with the Olympic champions, until being overrun in the final minutes to lose 12-17.
In the quarter-final the men’s side were easily handled by the South African team, going down 5-29, the sixteenth consecutive loss to the South Africans.
The Australians quickly bounced back to defeat Ireland in the 5th place final, 35-14, to go on to defeat Great Britain to claim fifth place in the tournament and finish with a number of promising takeaways in the first of the six world series events ain the lead-up to the Birmingham Games.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place from 28 July to 8 August, with the Rugby 7s tournament to take place from Friday 29 July through Sunday 31 July with the men’s and women’s medal matches taking place on the first Sunday evening of the Games.
Next year’s Commonwealth Games will make global sport history by being the first-ever major multi-sport event to award more medals to women than men. There will be 136 medal events for women and 134 for men; at the 2018 Commonwealth Games there were an equal number of medals for women and men.
To be in the stands in Birmingham supporting the Australian Rugby 7s Team Members and the rest of the Australian team, for the first time Australian families and fans will be able to access group tickets for all events at the Commonwealth Games.
The Family & Fans Tour ensures Australian families and fans can sit and cheer together, stay together and play together at the Birmingham Games.
Tour packages are available for sports; however, numbers are limited.
Bookings are now open, learn more about the Family & Fans Tour below.
BIRMINGHAM 2022 FAMILY & FANS TOUR
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is coming – and you could be there to witness history in the making.Learn More
To follow the journey of our Team Members, subscribe to Commonwealth Games Australia’s ‘Greater Together’ e-newsletter to stay up to date with Australia’s preparations for the Games.
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With thanks Rugby Australia.