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By ARU Media Unit
A spirited second-half fight back has powered the Australian Capital Territory to a 24-22 win over Touch Football Australia in the Cup final of the National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship at St. Ignatius College, Riverview, today.
Competing in the National Championship tournament for the first time, Touch Football Australia took a 17-5 lead at half time, but ACT fired back with three tries to one in the second half to claim the title.
ACT captain and Australian Sevens representative Sharni Williams was thrilled with the win and said the competition in women’s Sevens continued to strengthen.
“It was a gutsy effort,” Williams said.
“There’s a lot of talent at this tournament. A lot of girls are getting involved, especially with the Olympics on the horizon.”
ACT stand-in coach Ron Giteau, father of ACT player Kristy and former Wallaby Matt Giteau, was proud of the collective effort of his side, who were not favoured to win the tournament.
“We had girls who have played at a higher level before and girls who really rose to the challenge today so it’s an unbelievable result,” Giteau said.
“When we came to the tournament we were worrying about other sides, but by the end they were worrying about us.”
Giteau also praised the lead-up work done by regular ACT coach Dave Grimmond who was unable to attend the tournament due to work.
“It’s full credit to the team and to Dave Grimmond. The girls stood up and were outstanding.” Giteau said.
Australian Sevens representative Emilee Cherry scored twice for Touch Football Australia, while Evania Pelite-Denny and Emma Tonegato also crossed over. Alicia Quirk kicked one conversion.
ACT’s tries were scored by Williams and former Australian representative Kristy Giteau, who notched a hat-trick. Williams also added two conversions.
Touch Football Australia coach Wayne Grant said his side had turned heads just making it to the final in their first foray into Rugby Sevens.
“To make the Cup final is beyond our wildest dreams really, there’s a lot of transferable skills between touch football and Sevens and it’s rewarding to make it to the final,” Grant said.
“It’s disappointing that we lost but there are a lot of positives to take from it.”
Touch Football Australia and Australian Sevens player Emilee Cherry was proud of her side’s efforts despite most having little Sevens experience.
“I think we blew everyone’s expectations out of the water, we all stood up and we’re very proud of our efforts,” Cherry said.
Earlier in the day, Queensland Red claimed the Plate final with a 24-14 win over New South Wales Blue.
Victoria won the Bowl final with a 29-12 defeat over New South Wales White in a dominant contest that saw the Victorians up 17-0 at half time.
International visitors Papua New Guinea stunned their opposition in the Shield final, with a convincing 64-5 win over Northern Territory.
Qantas Women’s Sevens coach Chris Lane was in attendance at the tournament and was impressed with the level of competition on display.
“This is our second year of the Championship and the rise in standard from last year to this year is quite noticeable,” Lane said.
“This tournament is massively important. To see these players compete against each other at this level is a huge advantage for us as national selectors and is creating a pathway for the players.”
The National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship featured more than 150 players across 14 sides competing in Sydney over two days.
The Championships featured two teams each from New South Wales and Queensland, one each from Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. It also featured the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team’s National Indigenous side, Papua New Guinea’s national Sevens side, a Barbarians invitational team, Touch Football Australia and Australian OzTag.
The National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championships were introduced by Australian Rugby Union last year as a way to further develop the player pathway for women’s Rugby in Australia.
Day one of the tournament saw ACT claim top spot in Pool A following wins over Queensland Red, 12-5, Northern Territory, 57-0, and New South Wales White, 29-0.
Pool B was topped by Queensland White, who went undefeated with wins over New South Wales Blue, 7-5, South Australia, 17-12, and Victoria, 24-12.
Touch Football Australia claimed Pool C with two wins from three, defeating the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team’s National Indigenous side 28-14, Barbarians, 24-5, and Papua New Guinea 42-0.
Pool D was topped by another invitational side in Australian OzTag, which defeated Western Australia 14-12, Papua New Guinea 40-0 and Barbarians 17-0.
To view the entire draw and results click here.