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By ARU Media Unit
The Qantas Women’s Sevens side are set to face the Netherlands and hosts Hong Kong in the upcoming IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup, which kicks-off on Friday 23 March.
The second-ever IRB sanctioned women’s sevens event, which runs in conjunction with the sixth leg of the Men’s HSBC Sevens World Series, features 12 teams, with Australia seeded third behind Canada and England.
The tournament has been split into four pools of three, with the Australian 2009 Sevens Rugby World Cup winners ranked first in Pool C.
The Qantas Women’s Sevens team will be keen to go one step better than their last outing at the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup tournament in Dubai, where they fell agonizingly short of advancing to the Cup final with a 12-10 loss to England before defeating USA 22-5 in the third-fourth playoff.
Qantas Women’s Sevens coach, Chris Lane, said his side has improved on the training pitch but it won’t be until they take the field that they will be able to tell if their hard work has paid off.
“We learnt a lot from Dubai about where we’re at and the girls have been training hard since then,” Lane said.
“We’ve seen in the camps that we’ve held that we’ve made big gains, but we need to see them in international competition to see where we’re really at.
“Our testing and training results show we’re improving, but we’ll have to see how that translates on the field and where that will place us in the tournament.
“We have one more camp before the tournament so we’ll be using that to polish what we’ve been working on for the last few months.”
Australia has met both Hong Kong and the Netherlands before and Lane expects them to present challenges.
“Hong Kong will be up for it, they’ll be very emotional about hosting the tournament,” Lane said.
“The Netherlands did quite well in the Las Vegas Sevens recently, there’s no easy games at international tournaments.
“We’re expecting very tough pool games.”
The Qantas Women’s Sevens will assemble at the Australian Institute of Sport for a five-day camp starting 16 March, before travelling to Hong Kong for the tournament. The women will then head north in May for tournaments in London and the Netherlands, before taking a break in preparation for the launch of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens 2012-2013 World Series.
The Women’s event runs over two days, March 23 to 24, and will see four matches played at Hong Kong Stadium - the HSBC Sevens World Series venue - exposing women’s Rugby to 40,000 Rugby mad spectators.