Women's Sevens glad for Olympic tune up

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Australian Women's Sevens team had an Olympic tune up on the weekend, in a six-match series against New Zealand.

The sides played matches at the same time as they would have to in Rio, with both fielding full-strength sides for an afternoon “quarter-final”, a match that is generally played in the morning of a World Series tournament.

Australia won that match, but coach Tim Walsh said there are still plenty of things to work on.

“They executed really high skill and core skill they executed as well.

“There’s still a fair few errors to work on but we certainly played to expectation in that match.”

Walsh fielded development sides in the five other matches, giving the breadth of the squad an opportunity to gain some competitive practice.

“(The series) ticked many boxes and we’re  fortunate to have New Zealand ,the World Champions of the last three years, to have them come to us and play some great Rugby.

“They played in really good spirit and it was benefit to both Australia and New Zealand .

“It’s something we need to do more of at a senior level and a youth level.”

When women weren’t playing, they were simulating match conditions to build up the packed schedule of the Rio tournament.

The final results fell 4-2 the Kiwis way but Australian coach Tim Walsh said the results were irrelevant.

Walsh said the six-match series were a way to help prepare physically and mentally for the Olympic tournament.

“We wanted to prepare ourselves for the Olympics, with the women’s world series going from six (legs) to five this year, even six isn’t really a whole lot (of playing opportunity),” he said.

“With a professional program getting better, where do you get that level of competition but there’s also feeling that to prepare for the Olympics.

“We put a strategy in place to fill that hole and get us prepared over three days. With New Zealand being across the ditch and having the same thought patterns, it worked out really well.”

Youngster Dom DuToit showed her promise in the exhibition series against Ireland at the Sydney 7s and she impressed again over the weekend.

“She’s very consistent, reliable and still so young,” he said.

“She’s slowly gaining a lot of feathers in her cap and having those array of skills and hopefully we’ll get her to a World Series level and further.”

In an added bonus, the Aussie women made it through the weekend injury free, keeping them on track ahead of next month's tournament in Atlanta.