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By ARU Media Unit
An exciting Queensland Red outfit has claimed the inaugural National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship, following a 31-0 win over Sydney White in the Cup final yesterday at St. Ignatius College Riverview in Sydney.
The Queensland side bolted away with the title on Sunday, with current Qantas Women’s Sevens player Emilee Cherry netting a hat-trick, along with tries to national squad member Cheyenne Campbell and Qantas Women’s Sevens’ Shannon Parry. Player of the tournament, Lavinia Gould kicked four conversions.
For Qantas Women’s Sevens coach Chris Lane, the establishment of the tournament has further opened up selection and competition opportunities for female Rugby players in Australia.
“This tournament is a great step in the player pathway for Australian Rugby,” Lane said.
“The National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship will grow and grow over the years and I expect to see more players progress.”
The Cup final included no fewer than nine national players, with Cherry the standout, as she blitzed her opposites with unchallenged pace.
Also on show in the final were current Qantas Women’s Sevens players Alexandra Hargreaves, Cobie-Jane Morgan, Shontelle Stowers and Iliseva Batibasaga of Sydney White and Parry, Rebecca Tavo and Tricia Brown for Queensland.
While the amount of national players competing in the final allowed for an entertaining game, Lane was also impressed by the amount of new talent the tournament unearthed.
“The final was packed with national talent and the tournament featured a number of players from the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens-winning team,” Lane said.
“But it has also provided us with a look at the next crop of talent in Australian Women’s Rugby.
“Over the two days it was a very high standard and there were certainly a number of players who put their hands up that we’ll be watching very closely over the coming months and years.
“Sevens is new to a lot of the girls but despite this there was certainly a lot of natural football talent on display, which is very encouraging.
“To see them play at this level and play at the standard they did is great news for the future of Women’s Rugby in Australia.”
Earlier Sunday afternoon Victoria defeated Sydney Blue 33-5 to claim the Plate final, while the Australian Services Rugby Union edged out Papua New Guinea 39-29 in a thrilling Bowl final and South Australia claimed the Shield with a 36-0 win over ACT 2.
The tournament was a first for Rugby in Australia, as the governing body looks to continue to develop Rugby Sevens as it grows in importance and popularity following its appointment to the Summer Olympics in 2016.
Ground breaking in its approach to developing a player pathway for Women’s Rugby, the National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship brought together 168 players from across the country and abroad, with 14 teams in total.
The tournament featured three New South Wales teams, two Queensland and Australian Capital Territory teams and one team from Northern Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
It also hosted the first-ever National Indigenous Women’s Sevens team, an initiative of the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, an international side from Papua New Guinea and the Australian Services Rugby Union side.
Five of the six officials refereeing the tournament were women and 15 per cent of the players in attendance were Indigenous.
With so many talented players drawn together for the two-day fixture, Lane was able to get a firm handle on selection options and will look to invite several new players into the Qantas Women’s Sevens training squad as he continues to expand the women’s Rugby Sevens elite player base.
For more information on the National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship, click here.
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.