Uni 7s to take centre stage in Sydney

Uni 7s
by Jill Scanlon

All eyes will be on Macquarie University this weekend, as they host the second round of the Aon Uni7s.

Organisers, stakeholders and supporters alike will be keen to see if this initiative really does have what it takes to propel Women’s Sevens to the next level on the domestic landscape.

With the dust now settled following the fanfare and hype of the opening round, it is time to get down to business.

All eight teams have had the opportunity to assess the others’ strengths and weaknesses while testing their own capabilities as newly formed Sevens units.Will UQ go back to back in Sydney? Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Karen WatsonUniversity of Queensland took the first title and looked impressive in doing so.

Going in with an unchanged side this weekend in Sydney, UQ is obviously confident the same talent mix will work again.

While Bond Uni came close, falling at the final hurdle, all eyes should be on this weekend’s home side – Macquarie University’s Sydney Rays – possibly feeling there is a point to prove and looking to step up from the bronze medal performance in Tasmania.

Although Aussie Sevens champion and Macquarie assistant coach James Stannard made a strong debut taking the reins as coach, Nathan McMahon is back in the driver’s seat this weekend and will be keen for the squad to move the intensity up a gear in front of the local fans.James Stannard cast a watchful eye over the Rays in the opening tournament. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Karen WatsonThe enticing prospect will be the addition to some teams of experienced elite talent returning from both injury and Wallaroos duties.

Will the apparent balance of power, with the emergence of frontrunners from Launceston, be recalibrated by the change in some teams’ talent pool?

With only four tournaments in the series, it will be interesting to see at what point the coaches look to play for the wins rather than perhaps utilise the full mix of players at their disposal, which includes a large number of newcomers to the sport as well as those less experienced at this level.

The two outcomes of course are not mutually exclusive as the amount of local talent which shone in round one was impressive and this is one of the key objectives for this new initiative – to uncover the diamonds in the rough who will add to the depth of the national squad in coming years.

The other key element for the second outing in this Women’s Sevens series is the crowd support.

One can argue that while the numbers were not huge in Launceston, the initial support-base was strong for a state where the development of rugby is in its infancy to a great extent and definitely overshadowed by other players in the sports market.

Sydney however, is a completely different scenario, with this round taking place in rugby heartland.

In a week where the ARU profile on the national stage has taken a hit, everything will be crossed that the Uni7s initiative will again prove to be the positive tonic needed on the domestic scene, shining a spotlight on the broader potential of the game of rugby.

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