The inaugural Aon Women’s University Sevens Series has been officially launched at a function today at Sydney's Macquarie University.
The five-week tournament will be the first big step in the emergence of domestic elite level Women’s Sevens.
The interest and participation of women and young girls across the country has grown off the back of Australia’s Gold Medal success at the 2016 Rio Olympics, keeping in line with Sevens being one of the fastest growing women’s sports globally.
Among those in attendance for the launch were ARU CEO Bill Pulver and members of the Aussie 7s Olympic squad, alongside the next generation of players representing their respective University teams.
A selection of 16 players from the national squad have been added across the eight teams to play alongside the developing talent who are embracing the possibility of playing Sevens and realising their Olympic dream.
Each team will be a combination of elite athletes from three distinct sources - sporting students from each respective University, players from each associated region and Aussie Sevens representatives to not only add to the standard but to help mentor and develop the other players.
Also in the mix will be some members of Australia’s recent Gold Medal winning Commonwealth Youth Games side who, as the next generation of stars, will be putting their hands up for professional contracts with the Australian Sevens Squad.
Aussie Sevens coach Tim Walsh was at the launch and is looking forward to watching from the sidelines as the series unfolds and new prospects emerge.
“I’ll be at every tournament analysing it – not only for the new talent but for the current crop that are there as well," Walsh said.
"I think it’s a real advantage having them there, not only to educate the players coming through but also the coaches, and I think the format is fantastic.He admits to being excited more broadly about what this series means for the future of the sport for women and is proud the catalyst came out of the 2016 successes.
“It’s really exciting for the future of women’s rugby to make sure that there is a sustainable future but a successful one as well.
“It was always going to grow, but to the extent to which it has is down to the foundations of that gold medal.
"I think the awareness it gave the sport and the role models that it created only accelerated the game of rugby sevens."
While excited to see the breadth of talent on offer, Walsh is looking for particular attributes.“We’re after players with a real point of difference, the real rough diamonds and the players that just keep getting better and better.
“I’d like to think there are going to be a lot of players on our list who we’re just going to be very excited about,” he said.
“The reality is we’re after exceptional athletes with the intelligence and the application to be an Australian Women’s sevens player.
Team selections are in the process of being finalised and will be announced over the coming weeks.
The five-week Uni 7s competition kicks off on Friday, August 25 and includes Macquarie University, University of Queensland, Bond University, University of Canberra, University of New England, Griffith University, University of Tasmania, and the University of Adelaide.
Supporters who cannot make it to the tournaments will be able to watch all the action streamed LIVE on RUGBY.com.au.