Aussie women head Pool C in Hong Kong
After coming up agonisingly short in Dubai at the end of 2011, the Qantas Women’s Sevens side has been training hard for the upcoming IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup, which kicks off in Hong Kong on Friday 23 March.
The second-ever IRB sanctioned women’s Sevens event will run in conjunction with the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and features 12 teams, with Australia seeded third behind Canada and England.
The tournament has been split into four pools of three, with the Australian 2009 Sevens Rugby World Cup winners ranked first in Pool C, where they will play Netherlands and hosts Hong Kong.
The Women’s Sevens team will be keen to go one step better than their last outing at the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup tournament in Dubai, where they fell agonisingly short of advancing to the Cup final with a 12-10 loss to England before defeating USA 22-5 in the third-fourth playoff.
Australia Women’s Sevens coach, Chris Lane, said his side has improved on the training pitch but it won’t be until they take the field that they will be able to tell if their hard work has paid off.
“We learnt a lot from Dubai about where we’re at and the girls have been training hard since then,” Lane said.
“We’ve seen in the camps that we’ve held that we’ve made big gains, but we need to see them in international competition to see where we’re really at.
“Our testing and training results show we’re improving, but we’ll have to see how that translates on the field and where that will place us in the tournament.
“We have one more camp before the tournament so we’ll be using that to polish what we’ve been working on for the last few months.”
With Rugby Sevens now on the Olympic agenda, with the sport set to make its debut in 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Games, women's Rugby Sevens is going from strength to strength.
Australia has met both Hong Kong and the Netherlands before and Lane expects them to present challenges.
“Hong Kong will be up for it, they’ll be very emotional about hosting the tournament,” Lane said.
“The Netherlands did quite well in the Las Vegas Sevens recently, there’s no easy games at international tournaments. We’re expecting very tough pool games."
Netherlands prepare Bok-style
The Netherlands women's Sevens elite and development players and staff have travelled to South Africa to train for two weeks ahead of leaving for Hong Kong.
The Women’s event in Hong Kong runs over two days on 23-24 March at the Hong Kong Football club with the four biggest matches, the Cup semi finals, Plate final and Cup final, set to be played at the famous Hong Kong Stadium in front of 40,000 spectators.