The Australian squads to feature at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens (RWC7s) are full of youth and experience. And while the men’s side are still trying to find their feet with a new Olympic-winning head coach Tim Walsh, the women’s side are top contenders.
16 Women’s and 24 Men’s side will compete for both titles; currently held by New Zealand. The tournament will be held at the AT&T Park in San Francisco. It’s a brand new knockout competition, only winners progress and every minute counts.
— AU 7s (@Aussie7s) July 20, 2018
For the current Olympic champions, dynamic Aussie duo Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry will again co-captain the women’s side, while Lewis Holland leads the men. The women’s team is the defending HSBC Sevens Series champions with the Men’s side finishing fourth overall.
They are unpredictable and they can test the big guns in San Francisco. On the other hand, the ladies are hot favorites to topple the Kiwis.
Pelite and O’Donnell to shine at RWC7s
Evania Pelite (see main photo) and Ben O’Donnell will be the key players for the Aussie teams. They have each been consistent all season. With help from Charlotte Caslick and Jesse Parahi; senior players in both squads, and their direction will be tough to overcome.
Emma Sykes and Dom Du Toit were unlucky to miss the cut as they have really grown this season. However, the women’s group welcome back Elia Green who has overcome many injuries this season. Rookies Cassie Staples, Paige McGregor, Demi Hayes, Yasmin Meakes and 13th player Lauren Brown will certainly make full use of the opportunities afforded them.
Emma Tonegato and Green bring the speed and finishing, with Caslick the provider. Parry and Williams always lay down a solid platform, for Emilee Cherry and Pelite to exploit.
Canada, Fijiana, Spain and Russia offer a challenge in the women’s draw, with hosts USA and France due for a big result. The Australian women know how to perform, so are contenders to carry the gold away. However, their trans-Tasman rivals remain their biggest nemesis, and a huge hurdle for every side to overcome this weekend.
Aussie men must step-up in San Francisco
World Rugby Sevens ‘Rookie of the Year’ nominee Ben O’Donnell was brilliant this season; both on offense and defense. It took a brilliant Fijian, in the form of Eroni Sau to oust him from that award. O’Donnell just might be the one to ‘raise the bar’ and for fans, that will make the RWC7s that much more exciting.
Parahi and Holland bring the experience, where a void was left by James Strannard’s retirement. Former rookie of the year Henry Hutchinson returns from his stint with the Melbourne Rebels, just in time to perform on the biggest stage. Lachie Anderson returns from injury, adding more dimensions to the attack.
Anderson’s inclusion, with Hutchinson’s evasive skills gives more strength to their attacking game. John Porch outstanding all season goes into the tourney on form and with Maurice Longbottom and O’Donell, they will be top contenders. However, the forwards have to be consistent all weekend long as it is where they lack during crunch time. Top four contenders for sure, and will be a team to watch.
RWC7s pick: Charlotte Caslick is the ‘superstar’ player within the ladies, with the newly re-signed Jesse Parahi looking to display his skillset, leading by example in this youthful men’s side.
The Qantas Australian Sevens squad has been bolstered with another two re-signings with veteran Jesse Parahi and rising star Tom Connor both committing to the program until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. pic.twitter.com/v1LvFVFYNF
— Rugby AU Media Alerts (@RugbyAU_Media) July 9, 2018
Rugby World Cups Sevens 2018, the Verdict
The women’s team with eight players from the gold winning Rio Olympics squad will [more than likely] challenge the Kiwis. Considering recent results, they have struggled after only winning the Sydney Sevens in late January. With a new coach to adapt to – after Tim Walsh was shifted into the men’s group. The women have struggled but, the opposition know that they Aussie women have the arsenal to explode when needed.
For the men, it is about re-harnessing their success in Sydney. About how many within the group have matured and that building on positives, will lead to bigger things. If not now, then the men wearing gold will surely have success in the future.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images