Women not happy, but will deal with Sydney schedule

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia’s Women’s Sevens aren’t happy with their Sydney quarter-final being shifted out of the spotlight, but coach Tim Walsh says it’s the way of the world for now.

Sydney’s move to put the women’s quarter-finals on the nearby Kippax Oval instead of Allianz Stadium came under fire in recent days, with the ARU forced to defend its scheduling decisions.

The women’s Cup semi-finals and final will be held on the main stadium but under the original tournament agreement, it was guaranteed that all men’s matches would be played on Allianz Stadium turf.

Australia's women are used to playing second fiddle, but they don't want to do it forever. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile there was the possibility of holding both tournaments over three days, the proximity to the men’s Wellington leg made it too short a turnaround.

Walsh said the quarter-final fixturing was not unusual, but it wasn’t ideal.

“We’d obviously prefer to be on the stadium and for every country it's the most important game of the tournament, really sort of makes or breaks your tournament,”- Tim Walsh

“It would be nice to be out there but it's not something we're unfamiliar with as well.

“Generally, when we go to Dubai or London or wherever we've been, usually the quarter-final’s on the back field.

“It does need to be rectified but it's the same for every team and we know what it is.

Walsh said his team wasn’t the kind to get bogged down in these decisions.

“It’s extra motivation. If you don't win it then you're not out there (at Allianz Stadium),” he said.

“You have to adapt to the conditions and make sure that we're focused and doing our job.

Ellia Green is set to return in Sydney. Photo: Getty ImagesSpeedster Ellia Green was similarly unfazed when asked about the possible Kippax fixture.

“We've done a few sessions on that field and it's still a great field, it'll be great, ‘she said.

“We’ll just treat it like any environment.”

Walsh said Sydney's three-day tournament would be a pivotal litmus test when pushing the argument for expansion to the women’s circuit.

Currently, the women play just six world series rounds to the men’s 10, with three of these run jointly (Dubai, Sydney and Las Vegas).

In the past, cities like London have hosted both, but few have sustained the joint format in the long-term.

Making a bid for Women at the Sydney Sevens 2017. Photo: ARU Media/Stuart WarmsleyThe gaps in between, though, mean that the women go for close to two months without playing any World Series opponents and are largely featured in smaller stadiums in less populated centres.

The disparity in the condition of the men’s and women’s circuit serves to prove what Walsh and his players have been saying since last August- that Rio was simply the beginning.

Australia’s women regularly nominate Dubai as one of their favourite legs of the series, having been a joint tournament for almost the entire time, and Walsh said Sydney should be a catalyst for change.

“It is really important for all these countries and competitions to see how well they run together and hopefully they can expand to other countries and there can be a joint world series, men and women all around the world,” - Tim Walsh

One of Australia’s Sevens gold medallists, Chloe Dalton, said bringing more men’s and women’s tournaments together would be a welcome initiative.

“It's awesome for us to be able to join the men's tournaments,” she said.

“The men's sevens circuit is huge around the world and the crowds that it draws in. So, for us to have that added exposure and added crowd always gets us pretty hyped up.”

The women kick off the Sydney7s on Friday February 3. Tickets from sydney7s.com.au