Rugby sevens rivalry set to explode at GC2018
They are the reigning Olympic champions, but the Australian women’s rugby sevens team believe New Zealand are the ones being hunted ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Australians claimed a historic gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics, beating New Zealand 24-15 in the final, it was the first time the sport had been included in an Olympic event.
Since then New Zealand have re-established themselves as the power in the seven-a-side code, winning the 2017 World Rugby Sevens Series over Australia.
Now GC2018 shapes as the next chapter in a riveting rivalry with a chance to claim the first ever gold medal at a Commonwealth Games.
Australian women’s co-captain Sharni Williams knows there is a lot of work to do before the competition on the Gold Coast.
New Zealand are the ones being hunted now. We’ve had a really good preseason coming off the back of the uni sevens, that’s made us aware of what really good skills we have in the team and made us appreciate each other a lot more. We know our roles and positions.
New Zealand is obviously the top now, but that Olympic gold medal is still talked about, so in Australia there is a lot of pressure on us coming off the back of that. Everyone still remembers the golden girls and the Olympics.
The squad has changed dramatically since then. Yes, we still have some Olympians in the squad, we are bringing some young girls through. We’ve stopped talking about it and started to refocus on the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup.
It’s not hard to focus though when the Commonwealth Games is in your home country and the Australian team is pumped to have the chance to play on their home turf with a parochial crowd behind them.
It would mean everything to play on home soil.
It was amazing to win the Olympics, but to go to the Gold Coast where a lot of the Queenslanders in the team are from, to play on their home soil in front of home fans, and to play in a Commonwealth Games as well, the men have been playing for so long, so it’s awesome that we are now able to play.
It means quite a lot, as a kid growing up you obviously watched the Olympics, but also watching the Commonwealth Games was a big deal.
It’s pretty much a full-time job, we are doing 40-hour weeks. The training is pretty hectic, it’s awesome to see how far you can push your body. It is the best job in the world.