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By ARU Media Unit
The Australian Women’s Sevens will start their title defence as World Champions against South Africa, China and Ireland at Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow this June.
The pools for the women’s fixture of Rugby World Cup Sevens was held in the host city overnight, with the defending champions Australia being drawn as top seed in Pool B.
The Australian women made history in Dubai in 2009 when they defeated New Zealand 15-10 in nail-biting fashion to claim the first-ever women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens title.
Qantas Women’s Sevens captain Rebecca Tavo, who was in just her second season of Sevens in 2009, hopes to lead the Aussie Women to a repeat World Cup victory in 2013.
“We’ve had that label as defending Champions for four years, but it would be great to have the label as the 2013 World Champions,” Tavo said.
“The 2009 tournament was very intense, I’d never been to anything like it before. It was a rollercoaster but we dealt with it and at the end we were World Champions.”
The Australian women have three tournaments between now and June, with a stop in Hong Kong before the last two rounds of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in China and Netherlands.
While Rugby Sevens World Cup glory is the ultimate goal, Qantas Women’s Sevens coach Chris Lane said the focus for his team is on improvement.
“We’ve been building toward this for the last 18 months,” Lane said.
“We’re the defending World Champions, it’s important to us to win the World Cup again this year.
“We’re just focussed on our preparation, we want to play at a world champion standard.
“The title of being defending Champions won’t put pressure on us though, four years is a long time and we’re a new team.”
Australia have faced South Africa once in the current IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, defeating them 17-12 in South Africa.
The last time they faced China was during the 2012 season in London, where they won 27-5 in an IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup event.
While her team has little experience playing against their pool opponents, Tavo said she was well aware of the threats they posed.
“China look quite sharp and agile and they’re very good with the ball,” Tavo said.
“South Africa are very skilful and they’ve got a lot of speed and raw talent.
“Ireland seem to have strong, physical girls. I’ve never seen them at a tournament but they’ve built some impressive performances at the Six Nations level.
“Obviously we’ll look to make ourselves more aware of our opposition as we get closer to the tournament, but at the moment we’ve just got to keep building on our own strengths.”
The Qantas Women’s Sevens return to action 22-24 March when they travel for the non-IRB Hong Kong Sevens.
Players from the Qantas Australian Women's Sevens program visited the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick on Thursday to bring some needed festive cheer to sick children.