The Australian Women’s Sevens team will be looking to rekindle the spirit of Dubai when they travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the second round of the 2013 – 2014 IRB Women’s Sevens series this weekend.
The green and gold will play in Pool A against hosts USA, Canada and China at Kennesaw State University on the opening day for a place in the knockout stages of the competition.
After just one round of the series, Australia (20 points) leads the competition ladder with New Zealand (18) second and Russia (16) third. Canada (14) sits fourth, with England (12) rounding out the top five.
Australia is coming off a memorable victory over inaugural Series winners New Zealand in the Cup Final in Dubai. After trailing 27-5 at half-time, the Aussies crossed the line four times after the break to seal a first title for Australian Women’s Sevens team.
The tournament in Atlanta is the first since the Sevens program was centralised at the Sydney Academy of Sport in Narrabeen, bringing Australia in line with nations such as Canada, the United States, Netherlands and Russia.
Captain Sharni Williams is delighted that her team has been handed the opportunity to live and train like professionals since the program became centralised in January.
“We’re delighted with how our preparation for the upcoming tournament has gone. It has allowed us to be more professional than ever,” said Sharni.
“The whole team is riding a wave of momentum after the Dubai win and we are all keen to get back out there with a chance to win two Cups in as many tournaments. The young girls in the team are really starting to find their feet and everyone is looking forward to the challenge Atlanta, and then Sao Paulo the following week, brings.”
Williams will lead the same team that inspired the sensational comeback against New Zealand with standout performer Rachel Crothers returning for just her second international tournament.
Australian coach Tim Walsh is excited about the challenge the team has in front of them and believes 2014 is important year for Women’s Sevens.
“As a team, we have an opportunity to make a stand in the World Series. We don’t want to be getting ahead of ourselves but if we can continue to nurture success then we will be raising the profile of Women’s Sevens rugby and a trophy for Australia at the same time,” Tim said.
“Doing well once is achievable for many rugby nations. Doing well consistently is what is needed to win an IRB World Series. This is our goal for this season regardless of circumstances. We are building a squad with depth and the players are ready to slot in wherever the team requires.”
Elsewhere, in Pool B New Zealand will play England, Ireland and the Netherlands in the group stages while Russia, Spain, Brazil and Japan face off in Pool C.
The Australian Women’s Sevens team has plenty of competition in the next few months with defending champions NZ sitting just two points behind them on ladder leading into the Atlanta, with tournaments in Brazil, China and Netherlands to come later in the year.
After Atlanta, the next stop on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series will take place in Arena Barueri, Sao Paulo in Brazil on Saturday 21 of February – Sunday 22 of February.
All matches will be streamed live at wsws.irb.com
Follow the Qantas Men’s and Women’s Sevens with updates on Twitter @Aussie7s
Australian Women’s Sevens Squad for the 2013 – 2014 IRBSevens World Series in Atlanta, Georgia, USA:
Shannon Parry (Redlands, QLD)
Hanna Sio (Parramatta, NSW)
Emilee Cherry (Tribes, QLD)
Saofaiga Saemo (Power House, VIC)
Rachel Crothers (Australian Services Rugby Union)
Amy Turner (Mount Isa, QLD)
Cobie Jane Morgan (Warringah, NSW)
Alicia Quirk (Tribes, QLD)
Emma Tonegato (Tribes, QLD)
Charlotte Caslick (Tribes, QLD)
Ellia Green (Warringah, NSW)
Sharni Williams - captain (Canberra Royals, ACT)