Aussie women hoping for World Series parity

Womens - Sydney
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Sevens landscape has changed dramatically during Tim Walsh’s reign, but the outgoing Australian Women’s Sevens coach hopes the women’s game will make another significant gain soon.

This weekend’s Sydney 7s is the first that where men’s and women’s tournaments will be run concurrently over three days, with all finals on Sunday, and Walsh hopes that can expand.

“To have men and women together across a full world series would be the ultimate goal,” he said.

“Three days, three gates, three days of broadcasting, parity, men and women, and it's the way forward.

“We've certainly been pushing and lobbying for that for a while and it's great to have Rugby Australia initiate that, particularly on this.

“Other countries have done it as well but I think it's a really big step forward for the game globally.”

The women have six legs on their World Series, which can mean months between playing tournaments, while the men travel to 10 competitions every season, and Walsh hopes Sydney can teach the rest of the world something when it comes to integration.

“This is a great pilot for countries to follow and I think it'd be awesome to share these results and resources and information that allowed it to happen and then hopefully that can be pushed forward into the whole World Series,” he said.

Though Walsh said logistics and finance might delay the potential for a concurrent World Series, he hoped it would happen sooner rather than later.

“It's a lot of players coming in and different things - flights, timing,” he said.

“It ultimately comes down to what's going to be the benefit of the game and budgets - it is a business.

“I think it's an amazing World Series for both men and women and I'm sure they're making all the right decisions but it is nice to have this one merged together, particularly at home for us and hopefully it does set up a platform for wanting (that) to be ongoing.”

Aussie Sevens star Charlotte Caslick echoed Walsh’s comments when asked about expanding the women’s World Series.

“I think it's just awesome for the crowds. The whole package is awesome from a marketing perspective,” she said.

“It's such a great product and we just would enjoy going to all those tournaments as well.”

Sydney will be Walsh’s final World Series tournament in charge, after announcing plans to step down at the end of April’s Commonwealth Games.

Assistant John Manenti will become the side’s interim coach for the end of the 2017-18 season but his role will change little on the weekend.

“In the last 6-12 months, (we’ve been) using it as both (transition) for me but for him, in day one, I've been sitting in the grandstand and watching from a different angle and just radioing it in and (we’ve) also (had) John taking the messages and just becoming familiar there,” he said.

“We’ll probably look at that for a couple of games.  I'm still the head coach for now and that's how it's going to be run.

“I'm giving it everything like I always do and Johnny will do his role as the assistant.”

The Aussie Sevens play their first pool match against Spain on Friday January 26, kicking off at 11:50am AEDT.

The 2018 Sydney 7s kicks off on Friday January 26, running until Sunday January 28. Buy tickets here.