Woodman hopes Sydney shows the way

Womens - Sydney
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The New Zealand women’s Sevens try to turn every ground they play into a home venue, but superstar Portia Woodman hopes they’ll have the chance to actually play at home one day. 

Woodman, who took out the top women’s gong at last year’s World Rugby awards, lamented the fact that New Zealand doesn’t have a stop on the World Series, despite being a force in the format.

New Zealand has only conceded the World Series title once since its 2012 inception, when Australia won in 2016, but they have never held a women’s leg, or a concurrent tournament.

The men will travel to New Zealand next week for the Hamilton 7s, but the women don’t play again until April’s Commonwealth Games, on the Gold Coast.

The New Zealand Women's Sevens don't have the chance to play at home. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyInstead, the women say a prayer when they arrive at every World Series stop, and treat every field like it's territory they must protect.

“We don't get to play at home, so we pretend that halfway line is our family and we don't let anyone in there, we don't let anyone score against us, so that's pretty much our why,” she said.

A lack of financial backing has been pointed to as a hindrance to a women’s New Zealand leg, Woodman said eventually their performances would do the talking.

“If we just keep showing them that we are as good as we say we are and we perform and keep playing as well as we do. Who knows?,” she said.

“They can't not let us play at home, we'll see how it goes.

“They can seem to find money for certain things but we'll just keep fighting, keep doing our thing and keep performing as well as we can.”

Australia coach Tim Walsh said earlier in the week that he would like to see a fully integrated World Series and Woodman said Sydney would hopefully show the way on that front, with its three-day format.

“It should happen, it will happen,” she said.

“Sydney has showed that they can get it done, so I guess other countries can either step up and try and mingle it a bit more and it's just the standard Sydney has set for us, so it's good.”

New Zealand dominated their pool on day one, beating England, the USA and Japan in their three matches to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals.

After a disappointing Dubai finish, Woodman said a successful day one was a confidence boost for the Kiwis, but that meant little until days two and three were done.

“Day one doesn't really mean anything,” she said.

“We're going to keep doing what we're doing, step it up on defence - we need to make those tackles even more.

“The main thing is really concerning our communication that's happening on the field, it's really good.”

New Zealand takes on Ireland in the Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

The 2018 Sydney 7s run until Sunday January 28. Buy tickets here.