Rugby players aim to be in Sevens heaven
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.