Australia to field 7s team for first time
Scrum.com
March 25, 2008

Australia will break new ground by fielding a national women's Sevens team at the World Cup qualifiers to be played in Samoa on July 25-26.

While the Wallaroos debuted on the 15-a-side international stage in 1994, no Australian women's team has ever been assembled for Sevens competition.

Selection trials for the history-making Australian women's Sevens squad will be staged in Sydney on Sunday, April 27, and in Brisbane on Wednesday, April 30.

The qualifiers in Samoa will involve nations from the Oceania region, including Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji.

Only two teams from the tournament will advance to the 16-team World Cup main draw in Dubai next year.

"It's exciting for the women's program to be expanding into Sevens," said team manager Matt Grimison.

"Next year will be the first time a Sevens World Cup for women has been staged, and it will be played in conjunction with the men's Sevens World Cup.

"Obviously we want to have our team in Dubai and we're looking at both our traditional and non-traditional nurseries to ensure we have the best squad possible."

Grimison said apart from existing players in the National Training Squad, several stand out players from the Australian women's touch championships in Coffs Harbour a fortnight ago were approached and have accepted invitations to take part in the Sevens trials.

"We spotted some exceptional athletes at the national touch titles and Sevens rugby is appealing to them," he added.

"We'll see how they go in the trials, and we're confident we'll have a very competitive side."

Australian Sevens coach Bill Millard - currently with the men's team in Hong Kong for this weekend's latest round of the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series - will also coach the women's Sevens team.

"RWC Sevens 2009 in Dubai will make history as the first to incorporate a women's RWC Sevens tournament," said International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"The competition, which will comprise 16 teams, will consist entirely of teams that have confirmed their place through the regional qualifying structures. In total 82 women's Unions will have participated in the qualifying process."

Brazil has already qualified for the women's World Cup through a South American tournament. The remaining qualifiers will be drawn from Oceania (two), Africa (two), North America (two), Asia (three) and Europe (six).

© Scrum.com

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