If there are two Australians who know the importance of women’s rugby it’s Sevens co-captains Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry.
Both women were on hand for the announcement of Buildcorp as the naming rights sponsor of the Wallaroos, coinciding with the news that the Australian women’s national team will also play a three-match tour of New Zealand in October.
Sevens rugby has taken off since its introduction to the Olympics, but the women’s 15-a-side game has struggled for the same exposure, with matches only played rarely.
Parry knows how important it is to have experience on the international stage having represented both the Wallaroos and Sevens teams.
“We went into the last World Cup having players with one or two caps, so to get those extra three games under their belt and that experience of playing on the international stage (was important),” she said.
“It’s nothing like playing the National champs or club footy.”
The highlight of the three-match series in New Zealand will be a Bledisloe double header on October 22 when the Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns in the lead up to the Wallabies vs All Blacks Test.
“It’s not a curtain raiser anymore, it’s a double header so to be put on the same scale as the men that is definitely something special and a landmark for women’s rugby for Australia and New Zealand,” Parry said.
Fellow captain Sharni Williams echoed Parry’s thoughts about the importance of match preparation.
This three game series, in addition to the support of Buildcorp, means the Wallaroos will have a much better preparation in the lead up into next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“I’ve been a part of two World Cups and our preparation has been pretty poor having to go into Samoa as a qualifier in 2009 and then to go straight into the 2010 World Cup," she said.
"To have good quality games, playing at the Bledisloe, three games against New Zealand is going to be amazing for these girls and put them in good stead for 2017.”
Both Sevens stars are very much focused on the Olympics in 50 days, but Parry hasn’t ruled out a potential return to the Wallaroos down the track.
“At the moment, it’s Rio for us,” she said.
“Everything is focused about Sevens and trying to make that final selection for Rio and then post-Rio we’ll sit down, reassess things and see where the body’s at and which direction I want to go for the next couple of years.”