Australia’s women will travel to Las Vegas next month to take on the USA in a Commonwealth Games simulation event.
There are no World Series tournaments for the women before the Commonwealth Games in April, leaving the team facing more than a two-month break between major tournaments, with Sydney in the last weekend of January.
With the next men’s World Series event in Las Vegas, a deal was struck with the USA to play off during that tournament, a chance for valuable game time for both teams.
It won’t be any kind of kick-and-giggle, with Aussie Sevens coach Tim Walsh planning to take a full-strength side over to America, and ensuring the event is as similar to April’s Commonwealth Games as possible, down to the smallest of details.
The sides will play five matches over three days to mimic the Commonwealth Games format.
It was a strategy they implemented ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics as well, playing a mock series against Japan in the Olympic format before that competition.
“Leading into a big benchmark event we like to have a tournament or a game four-to-six weeks out from an event, so we needed to find suitable opposition and a venue,” he said.
“Ideally it's not a Commonwealth games team, so that wipes out a few, particularly teams that are possibly in our pool as well.
“We approached the USA about going to play in that tournament and organise some games in a Commonwealth Games format, which they've very kindly accepted.
“They've done some organisation around what we wanted to achieve from it and they get a lot out of it as well, playing against an elite team and everybody having some game time in between now and the next tournament."
Aussie Sevens co-captain Shannon Parry said the addition to the schedule would be critical for the side as they look for success on the Gold Coast.
“From Sydney to Commonwealth Games it was eight weeks and it was way too long to have without matches, so we're very lucky that USA rugby's come on board and our management have been able to sort that out,” she said.
“For us with the extra tournaments, it enables us to get a bit more depth in our squad, get more experience and for the Commonwealth Games, it's a perfect lead-up against a quality team in America on their home soil.
“So, we're really looking forward to it.”
The Las Vegas World Series kicks off on March 2 local, Saturday March 3 Australian time.