Sevens growth shouldn't spell the end for women's XVs

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

They’re Sevens gold medallists but both Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams believe that XVs and Sevens can both thrive in the Australian landscape.

Australia’s Olympic Sevens success has generated major boosts in participation and the truncated format has been seen as the way to get more women into the game.

That success has come after the program was centralised and made professional, moves that have only stood to benefit the side.

Parry, who along with Williams has re-joined the Wallaroos squad ahead of the World Cup, says Sevens growth shouldn’t be thought of at the expense of XVs, though.

Plenty of hi-fives for the Aussies after their win over Ireland. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“There's no reason why we can't develop both pathways, Sevens and XVs for women across Australia,” she said.

“Obviously at the moment the VIVa 7s, Game On games that we've got, they’re great pathways to get young girls into Sevens and then I think in the development of the player, you can play XVs, you can get your extra contact that you need to get that you don't necessarily get in Sevens.

“It's a great development pathway if we can develop both of them and looking at the ARU strategic plan, that's definitely what they're trying to do moving forward.”

Williams said there was no reason women’s rugby couldn’t support both forms of the game.

“It happens for the men, so why not for the women as well?,”- Sharni Williams.

“Sevens is a showcase for the women in rugby, whereas XVs is probably a little bit on the backseat, so I'd like to see XVs starting to progress as well.

We don't want the game to die and we definitely need to support them as much as we do the Sevens girls.”

Williams said the World Cup would be the perfect chance for women’s XVs to prove its position in the rugby landscape.

“Off the back of the Olympics, Sevens has definitely blossomed and the pathway has been a lot better,” she said.

“As for XVs, it's probably dwindled a little bit.

“I think this World Cup will definitely showcase what we're about and people start to realise there is a Sevens game and a XVs game.”

That Williams and Parry are both linking up with the Wallaroos ahead of the World Cup, released by Sevens coach Tim Walsh, means plenty to the squad.

Ash Hewson will captain the Wallaroos side in Auckland. Photo: Getty ImagesWallaroos veteran Ash Hewson said the gesture was one that would be a major boost on and off the field.

“I think it just shows how special XVs game is to people,” she said.

“Sevens is a branch of rugby union but XVs is the heart of the game and Sharni and ‘Shanno’ started playing rugby union with XVs.

“When you're on that field, you've got 14 of your mates running around and you know you've got to get back up for every single one of them.

“I think it just shows how important the game is and what heart it actually takes to play it.”

The Women’s World Cup kicks off in August, but Australia will face New Zealand, Canada and England in a June Series across the ditch before that.