Rugby play­ers aim to be in Sev­ens heaven

Central and North Burnett Times - - READ -

We want to be­come the most recog­nis­able fe­male sport in Aus­tralia.

WITH women fi­nally be­ing al­lowed to grace the Syd­ney Sev­ens tour­na­ment for the first time, Aus­tralia’s cham­pion team won’t be short of mo­ti­va­tion. The girls are putting both rugby union’s brand and their own fu­ture earn­ings on the line at Al­lianz Sta­dium this week­end dur­ing the lo­cal round of the an­nual World Se­ries tour­na­ment.

The Aussie women have been show­ing the men up of late in the mod­i­fied rugby game that, as the name sug­gests, fea­tures seven play­ers on each team, as op­posed to 15, and games com­pris­ing two 15-minute halves.

Af­ter claim­ing last sea­son’s World Se­ries ti­tle, the girls went on to se­cure gold at the Rio Olympics – the first time the code had been played at the Games. The girls, though, have even greater goals in mind. “We want to be­come the most recog­nis­able fe­male sport in Aus­tralia,” star player Ali­cia Quirk said re­cently.

And while they must now vie with the Di­a­monds net­ball team as Aus­tralia’s best-per­formed on the in­ter­na­tional stage, a win on home soil will only help their cause.

“They are fan­tas­tic role mod­els,” coach Tim Walsh said. “They un­der­stand where they can have an im­pact in mak­ing sure the younger gen­er­a­tion are look­ing up to them and want­ing to play rugby sev­ens.”

As an added in­cen­tive to vic­tory this week­end, the girls have nom­i­nated Syd­ney Sev­ens as their Aus­tralian Olympic Com­mit­tee bench­mark event for 2017.

Ath­letes or teams get to pick one com­pe­ti­tion a year to try to win an AOC fund­ing bonus, which is de­signed to keep them train­ing to­ward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

If they win in Syd­ney, the 12 Sev­ens play­ers will claim an ex­tra $20,000 each at the start of 2018.

PHOTO: DEAN LEWINS/AAP

Aus­tralia’s Char­lotte Caslick, left, and Ali­cia Quirk cel­e­brate their gold medal win in theWomen’s Rugby Sev­ens against New Zealand at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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