The Australian Youth girls team are out for redemption at the World Schools sevens tournament and they have more than enough talent to earn it.
The cream of Australia’s young sevens talent are in New Zealand for the World Schools, which begins on Friday, and the amazing growth of rugby’s short-form among women since 2016 is evident in the Aussie girls side.
Of the 14 players named in the under 18 side, three have already played for the Australian senior sevens team and a whopping 11 players featured in the Aon Uni 7s competition this year.
Highly-touted Griffith star Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, who only finished school this year, also played in the Super W for Queensland.
Speedster Jakiya Whitfield, Hagiga Mosby and Madison Higgins-Ashby all featured in the Australian women’s team who recently beat New Zealand in the Oceania Sevens in Fiji, and Aussie squad member Sariah Paki would have also been in the schools team if not for injury.
They’ll be hoping to repeat that success against the Kiwis at the World Schools tournament, particularly given the New Zealanders downed them in the Oceania Under 18s tournament in April.
It meant they couldn’t automatically qualify for the Youth Olympics.
“(It was) absolutely devasting for us to miss out on the Youth Olympics but it is a loss that we will remember and we definitely have learnt from it,” Aussie squad member Tatum Bird said.
“I think it makes us a little bit more hungry for the schools tournament coming up, so definitely redemption to be gathered but were really excited and I think we’re going to gel as a team a little bit more because of that loss.
“I’m very confident with the girls, we’ve gone to camps together and we’ve played against each other in AON… so I’m very confident in the girls that we’re going to blow it out park, so hopefully it’ll all go to plan.”
Bird is one of the 11 girls with senior experience, after playing in the 2018 AON Uni 7s series for Macquarie Uni Rays.
Bird did not have much experience playing in sevens tournaments at the start of the year but after playing for the Rays she now feels more skilled and confident.
“I learnt so much from it, the training, the rounds…it was one of my first women’s tournament and before Oceania I hadn’t played many women’s tournaments,” she said.
“So definitely I’m coming into the NZ tournament much more confident. I feel a little bit more stronger and ready to go.”
Bird, Whitfield, Katalina Amosa, Higgins-Ashby, Mosby, Georgia Hannaway, Faith Nathan and Terri- Anne Egan all played in the Oceania under 18s at the start of the year.
The Australian Youth boys team will be looking to add to their Oceania title, after they beat Samoa in the final 32-7 and secured the Youth Olympic qualification.
The games can be streamed at sidelineapp.com.
Australian U18s Youth Girls Sevens:
1. Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, QLD
2. Jakiya Whitfeld, NSW
3. Terri- Anne Egan, QLD
4. Madison Higgins-Ashby, NSW
5. Hagiga Mosby, QLD
6. Maya Stewart, NSW
7. Zakiya Kereopa, WA
8. Katalina Amosa, NSW
9. Georgia Hannaway, QLD
10. Tatum Bird, NSW
11. Faith Nathan, NSW
12. Amy Brice, QLD
13. Tia Hinds, NSW
14. Bienne Terita, NSW
Australian U18s Youth Boys Sevens:
1. Zac Steer, QLD
2. Tiko Twist, ACT
3. Isaac Crowe, ACT
4. Tom Haddad, ACT
5. Joseph Suaalii, NSW
6. David Vaihu, QLD
7. Tolu Koula, NSW
8. Kaeo Weekes, NSW
9. Tane Edmed, NSW
10. Jack Walsh, NSW
11. Mitch Wood, QLD
12. Sam Warner, QLD
13. Liam Dalibozek, NSW