Thursday, March 20, 2014

Some Thunder from Down Under

Four of our Stars Rugby 7s elite players for the Las Vegas Invitational hailed form Australia and with our men's and women's elite sides traveling there in October for Central Coast 7s, we have a vested interest in what's happening Down Under.

The Australian women's 7s team has come on quite strong this year bumping up from a 5th place finish in the 2012/2013 iRB Women's Sevens World Series to a tie for the top place with the Dubai 7s and Brazil 7s titles to their name.

The major difference between this year and the last is that players have centralized, much like the programs in the US and Canada. When our Stars Rugby 7s teams head to Central Coast 7s we'll be playing against several of the women on the Aussie roster (so start amping up your training NOW, Stars hopefuls!).

The Wallaroos 15s team seems to have followed suit with their dedication to this summer's Women's Rugby World Cup. Back in February they hosted a multi-day player camp and recently announced their 26 woman roster for upcoming test matches including a Tri Nations series with New Zealand and Canada. The Wallaroos have an ambitious schedule ahead with their World Cup prep (as does Canada - we'll post on that later today) that should pay off in France this summer.

Therefore it's a huge honor to announce that Stars Elite captain and flyhalf Cheyenne Campbell has made the Wallaroos roster! Her spot is well earned and well deserved. Cheyenne has represented Australia in both 15s and 7s sides in the past and her veteran experience, calm voice, fancy footwork and mean stiff arm will no doubt contribute to the Wallaroos success in France! There's more on the 15s team announcement after the 7s article.
Here's more regarding the Australian 7s side and their rivalry with New Zealand from the Courier-Mail:

THEY have an armful of silverware, a world no. 1 ranking and best of all, 
beat New Zealand on a regular basis. 

Meet the bright shining light of Australian rugby — our women’s sevens team.

The Aussie women’s team are setting the standard for their male peers to follow across all forms of rugby, having dominated the early stages of the inaugural World Women’s Sevens series.

In the opening three tournaments, the Australian girls have claimed two titles and a classy victory in Sao Paulo, Brazil last weekend followed the women’s side’s victory in the opening world series tournament in Dubai last November.

It has established them as a genuine contender for gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics, not least because the team they beat in both finals will likely be on the dais as well: the mighty Kiwis.

“You can throw all the cliches out there but winning is a habit,” says coach Tim Walsh.

“The beauty about beating New Zealand is there is no aura or fear for these girls about playing them.
“These girls run out on the field, and they respect every opposition, but they also know they can beat anyone.

“They work hard, do the job, and are humble about it.”

Australia have, in fact, beaten New Zealand in four of their last five games and after recently centralising their training headquarters in Sydney, are hopeful the growth of the young team will only continue.

With an average age of 21, the 21-strong Australian squad contains a mix of emerging stars sourced through talent identification from junior and schools programs, touch football, oztag and even athletics. Just two years into her career, Emilee Cherry is arguably the world’s best female player and teenagers like Charlotte Caslick and Elia Green will end up in her company.

Eighteen-year-old former touch whiz Caslick scored two tries in the Sao Paulo final, and handled three times in a brilliant, long-range third for Cherry.

Walsh, a former Aussie sevens player, said the combination of fitness and mental toughness were keys to their recent success.

“Particularly with the defence stuff, what comes through is their desire to win,” Walsh says, noting many of his team come from non-contact background.

“They do the hard work and they’re putting it together on the field. They’re not making silly errors. Under pressure, now, they’re very composed.”

After years of nomadic camp-based training, the men's and women's squads all moved this year to a new permanent base at Narrabeen, where they share a team room and have access to first-rate sports and analysis facilities.

“It is one of the major points in why we’re doing well, having access to the players every day,” Walsh says.
“That’s a huge benefit to the program and to win a World Series, and an Olympic medal, that’s the way forward.”

Australia has previously relied on its competitive advantage of athletes with a footy background, but with Olympic funding now building powerful teams in non-rugby nations like Canada, the Netherlands and USA, the Narrabeen HQ is hoped to keep them out ahead.

Walsh jokes of his close-knit side “you hear them long before you see them” but it’s that team unity that’s underpinning success, says Caslick.

“It is like our second family, and this is our second home now,” she said.

“Being able to train together every day, it has shown out on the field we are so much smoother and everyone is better connected. It makes it easy when we’re out there to trust each other, and know someone is going to make a tackle or be in support for a pass.”

If success is infectious, it’s hoped the women’s recent efforts rub off on the men’s squad, who are ranked fifth and this week learned long-time coach Mick O’Connor is stepping down.

Unfairly, given the women’s team would be favourites, it’s only the men’s team who’ll be gunning for gold in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in June.

Despite women’s sevens being included in the Olympics, it wasn’t big enough back in 2010 when the Commonwealth Games’ sports were decided.

It is expected the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast will be the first to feature women’s sevens. What odds a replay of the Rio gold medal match — Australia v New Zealand?

And the news on the 15s selections from Rugby Australia:

 Wallaroos announce squad for 2014

By ARU Media Unit

Tui Ormsby will be going to her fourth IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Australian Rugby Union today announced a squad of 26 players to compete in the upcoming Tri-Nations tournament to be held in June against New Zealand and Canada, with 15 uncapped players vying to represent Australia for the first time.

Members of the squad will be looking to impress national selectors in the Tri-Nations tournament ahead of the final selection of the squad for the Women’s Rugby World Cup to be held in France in June.

The squad announcement follows an extensive selection process that included the Women’s National Championship, a National Selection camp, the National Women’s Sevens Championship and satellite training around the country.

Australian Rugby Union CEO, Bill Pulver said he’s excited about the Wallaroos’ prospects for the Tri-Nations and Rugby World Cup.

“The squad trained hard at the National Selection Camp in Canberra and I’m confident they’ll improve on their third place from the last Women’s Rugby World Cup when they head to France in August,” Mr Pulver said.

“They have an excellent coaching team led by Paul Verrell and the Tri-Nations Test series against New Zealand and Canada will be the perfect preparation on their quest for World Cup glory.

“The Australian Rugby community will certainly be cheering hard at every stage of their path to Paris.”

Head Coach Paul Verrell said he and his team were very impressed with the commitment and training of all the players at the National Selection Camp.

“After a careful and considered process we have chosen this squad to take us to the Tri-Nations and prepare us for success at the IRB Women’s World Cup. I’m confident they have the potential to go better than their third place in 2010 and we have every intention of doing so,” he said.

The squad includes representative players from right across the country and the Australian Services Rugby Union.

QLD – 5
NSW – 10
ACT – 2
WA – 3
VIC – 2
ASRU – 4

NSW Representative Tui Ormsby from the Warringah Rats Rugby Club will be seeking to run out for her fourth World Cup if selected to represent Australia in Paris.

“I’m very excited about getting the opportunity to potentially represent Australia in a fourth World Cup. My journey in the 2010 World Cup ended prematurely due to injury so I’m really excited to get out there again and make the most of this opportunity.

“We have got a long road ahead of us but the feeling and sense of camaraderie at the National Selection camp was fantastic and I’m confident we will make everyone proud of the Wallaroos this year”.  

The Wallaroos squad is as follows:

First Name Surname
Hayley Barclay
Tricia Brown
Louise Burrows
Chloe Butler
Cheyenne Campbell
Rebecca Clough
Dalena Dennison
Mollie Gray
Natasha Haines
Alisha Hewett
Ashleigh Hewson
Ashley Marsters
Nita Maynard
Danielle Meskell
Michelle Milward
Tui Ormsby
Liz Patu
Emily Robinson
Brooke Saunders
Oneata Schwalger
Rebecca Smyth
Alexandra Sulusi
Kenina Terita
Caroline Vakalahi
Madeline Putz
Margaret Watson

*Uncapped player

Wallaroos dates:
Tri Nations Training Camp, 28-29 May, Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen.
Tri-Nations Tournament, team travels on May 30 to New Zealand.
World Cup Training Camp, 21-27 July Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen.
The IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup commences on August 1.
The Wallaroos have France, South Africa and Wales in their World Cup pool. 

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