The opening day of the inaugural Aon Uni 7s Series at the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston has seen some stellar rugby played as the eight universities vied for dominance in the first day of the brand-new tournament.
Macquarie University will play The University of Queensland in Semi Final one with Griffith University to battle Bond University in an all Queensland derby in Semi Final two, to see who will emerge as champions of this first leg of the series.
Still in the fight for crucial series points, The University of Adelaide will play University of New England in the battle for fifth place as well as University of Tasmania who will play University of Canberra in the other fifth place Semi Final.
Australian University Sport CEO Don Knapp said the Series is part of a nationwide shift to create elite sporting pathways for female student-athletes.
“This collaborative initiative between Australian University Sport, competing universities and the Australian Rugby Union provides elite student-athletes with a ground-breaking pathway to the Olympic and Commonwealth Games podia, while at the same time preparing them for a career beyond sport through dual career education while at university,” Mr Knapp said.
"This program is a great example of multiple partners working together to achieve shared, organisational aims; the pathway this program creates for elite female athletes in rugby sevens is indeed exciting.”
Chloe Dalton, a sixth-year physiotherapy student and elite athlete at The University of Sydney, went from the Sydney University Flames on a basketball scholarship to rugby sevens Olympic gold medallist in less than three years. Injured just prior to the Aon Women’s Uni 7s Series first round, she is set to rejoin the Macquarie University side in round two.
“Training with the Macquarie Uni girls is awesome – it’s amazing to see how much time and effort they put into the program,” Ms Dalton said.
“The more experienced girls in leadership roles like Emily Chancellor and Nita Maynard lead by example – they play with so much heart and push right to the end, which is inspiring for the younger girls to see.”
“The exposure sevens had from Rio was a huge occasion for the sport, and people watching at home were blown away by the standard of rugby. It’s so important we’ve created a pathway for the future and a competition to give people opportunities to join the sport.”
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh said: “The standard we saw today has set a great foundation for the Series. For the competing teams it was great to see so many tight contests across day one."
“Sevens is all about how you back up, so day two will be crucial in seeing who can ensure the best possible finish for series points."
“There is a lot of talent across all the teams and the series is really just heating up.”
The University of Queensland and Aussie 7s player, Emma Sykes said: “It was an awesome day, the girls have really gelled together well. We had some tough matches out there but the girls have pulled together strongly."
“It’s onto the harder stuff, if you lose you’re out. It’s going to be a really tough battle against the Rays (Macquarie University). They have a lot of talent in their side so it’s going to be a really good game."
“It’s great to play alongside Chez (Emilee Cherry), she’s one of the best players in the world. It’s awesome for us to come to these sides and play alongside someone like her.”
All matches can be watched LIVE on the Australian University Sport Facebook on Saturday 26 August from 1:40pm AEST.
Aon Uni 7s Series - Round 1 Finals Day Fixtures, Saturday 26 August:
1.40pm: The University of Adelaide v University of New England
2.00pm: University of Tasmania v University of Canberra
2.20pm: Macquarie University v The University of Queensland (Gold Medal Semi Final)
2.40pm: Griffith University v Bond University (Gold Medal Semi Final)
3.40pm: 7th Place Play Off
4.00pm: 5th Place Play Off
4.20pm: Bronze Medal Match
4.40pm: Gold Medal Match
Photo credit: ARU Media/Karen Watson