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Levis in style with sister act set for Sevens in Toulouse

Wed, 18/05/2022, 11:43 pm
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
The Australian Women's Sevens have won their third World Series title in Seville taking the final 17-12 against ireland.

The Gold Coast sister act of Maddison and Teagan Levi are to team up in Australia’s champion sevens side for the World Series finale in Toulouse.

The in-form Aussies have already wrapped up the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series so playing with more freedom and less pressure is on the cards.

Catch all the action of the World Series LIVE on Kayo and BEIN Sports

The action in Toulouse gets underway on Friday in a tough pool with the USA, Olympic bronze medalists Fiji and South Africa.

Teagan, 18, comes into the playing squad after being a non-playing member in Langford, Canada where the Australians celebrated a wonderful series high by beating New Zealand’s Black Ferns 21-17 in the final.

 The World Series triumph is huge but 2022 offers so much more.

“It’s really exciting times because of all the hard training working towards that end goal in the World Series. We have Comm Games (in Birmingham) and the World Cup Sevens (in Cape Town) still ahead this year,” Maddi, 20, said.

The hurt of being dumped out at the quarter-final stage of last year’s Tokyo Olympics without a medal has been a potent fuel for 2022’s success.

“It’s not just individually. We’ve learnt so much as a team since Tokyo. It was definitely a devastating loss to take on board but you only move forward from losses.”

Levi was a late inclusion for the Olympics which was a sign of her long-striding, athletic potential.

“Just knowing my role and getting more familiar with the team this year has made a big difference. I was obviously sort of last minute into the Olympics so definitely getting more comfortable has been a good thing,” Maddi said.

The ponytail express has been one of Australia’s most lethal finishers in the World Series with 16 tries including the big fend and dash for the first try of the final.

She did fumble the ball on her own tryline to concede a try to NZ so gaining consistency is always a work-on when single moments can decide a frantic sevens match of short seven-minute halves.

Young sister Teagan is eager for more time at this elite level.

“It’s really exciting. I’d been looking to crack the Aussie team for a while so to finally get selected in the squad this season is amazing,” Teagan said.

“To travel the world, and to so many places already, is awesome and with some of my idols like Charlotte Caslick.”

It was in the afterglow of Caslick, Emilee Cherry, Ellia Green, Sharni Williams and Co winning the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics that the Levi sisters were drawn to rugby.

When they were part of a Miami State High School team which met the Aussie sevens high-achievers at Ballymore, things took off.

They got to ogle Green’s Olympic gold medal from close range and meet Caslick. 

“I guess we all have your idols no matter what sport we play. Just being able to meet her after the 2016 Olympics was great and we were very fortunate to get a pair of Aussie sevens shorts from her,” Maddi recalled.

“That really started our drive to make the Aussie team.

“Now we’re playing in the same team as her. Hopefully, one day both of us can inspire people too. Getting the younger generation to look up to us would be truly amazing.”

Both sisters have athletic gifts as the Gold Coast Suns AFLW club recognised by drafting both before they pivoted to rugby sevens.

“I think women’s sport has grown so much and there is so much more to come,” Teagan said.

“It’s good to see all different codes of sport growing so we are not just watching men on TV.

“The standard of footy is just going to get higher.”

Even with the trophy pressure off, it is hard to imagine the Aussies playing with even more flair than they have shown as the standouts this season.

They have hit opponents with 139 tries in just five tournaments, including their victories in Dubai (twice), Seville and Langford.

Series standout Caslick (24 tries) and Faith Nathan (22) lead the hauls. Dom du Toit (13), Demi Hayes (12), Madi Ashby (11) and veteran Williams (10) have also feasted on tries.

Williams doesn't mince her words when asked about the rise of Maddi Levi, Faith Nathan and Madi Ashby, all just 20 or 21.

"The word there is freak. All three have stepped up and are owning their positions," Williams said.

"Faith is super fast and electric whenever she gets the ball. All her testing is through the roof.

"Madi (Ashby) is just an elusive ball-player, really backs herself in space and sets people up.

"Maddi (Levi) is little more than 12 months into playing the game at a high level and

and is starting to believe in what she is capable of."

The Levi sisters will add their thing in Toulouse. They have an almost telepathic understanding when they are on the field together.

Smiled Teagan: “On the field, we’re pretty good at knowing what each other is going to do. It’s really good working with Mads. She knows all my moves and what lines to run.”

Maddi has had a trick play on hold for the right moment all season.

Her signature move is a gymnastics-style forward roll. She produced it instinctively when ankle tapped at the Aon University Sevens at Bond University last year.

She kept her momentum, regained her feet and finished off a 60m try ignited by Teagan.

If there’s a right place to pull it out, it’s in Toulouse with the World Series title in Australia’s keeping and a licence for some free-wheeling fun.  

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