Temperatures soared into the thirties in Adelaide over the weekend as teams from around the country battled it out at the National Sevens Championships and with plenty of fresh faces on show, the already sweltering tournament was on fire.
Two players however shone brighter than the rest, taking out the award for Men’s and Women’s Players of the Tournament.
Ben O’Donnell was a standout player in the Men’s teams, voted Player of the Tournament the 21-year-old had a stellar weekend with his Australian Universities team, who came second to Queensland Red in the final.
"It was pretty surprising to be even in the running with some of those boys running out there on the field. It’s a pretty big honour to be put in that pool of players,” he said.
"It was a privilege and great experience to play with and against some of Australia’s finest rugby Sevens players.”
O'Donnell said that from the get go his team was labelled the ‘underdogs’ of the competition, which was the perfect opportunity for the side to ‘fly under the radar and do our thing’.
"From 1st to 12th every team was a threat and each game tested every one of us to the max,” he said.
National squad member Georgie Friedrichs took out the Women’s Player of the Tournament as she skippered her Queensland Red side to victory over NSW Blue.
The 21-year-old was thrilled to get back to her rugby roots over the weekend and to steal a win from last year’s champions, taking the trophy north of the border.
"I’m absolutely stoked that we got the trophy back on the right side of the border,” she said.
Men’s Aussie Sevens coach, Andy Friend didn’t have to look far for new young talent, saying that the quality of footy being played over the weekend was very impressive.
"You’re always looking for the next one who’s going to come through and wear the gold jersey,” he said.
"People pop up from everywhere, you never know where that next lot of talent is coming from.”
Gold medal winning Aussie Women’s Sevens coach Tim Walsh was another who said he was continually amazed with the talent coming through the competition, saying that each year is bigger and better than the last.
"Every year we come to these competitions, and the standard just increases across the board,” he said.
Walsh said that he had no doubt that some of the young talent on display would be sporting a gold jersey in 2020 in Tokyo.
The HSBC 2016-2017 Sevens World Series kicks off in Dubai on December 1.