Women’s Rugby has undoubtedly received a boost in profile of late on the back of the success of our Australian Women’s 7s team and their march towards a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Whilst the the 7s variation of the game has proven to be both a showcase international event and a key recruitment strategy, the place of the traditional XVs game has been somewhat blurry.
With the Buildcorp National Women’s XVs Championships kicking off in Sydney tomorrow (Friday), and a commitment from the Australian Rugby Union to bring back the event on an annual basis (rather than timing it around World Cup years), it looks like XVs will remain a key development pathway for women in rugby.
We head earlier this month of two significant developments for Women’s Rugby in Australia. The first was Buildcorp coming on has naming rights partner of the Wallaroos, and the National Championships, and the second was the announcement of a two test series against the Black Ferns in October (including as a curtain raiser for the Bledisloe Cup match on 22 October).
It all seems to be building nicely towards Australia’s charge towards the eighth iteration of the World Cup which Ireland are in August next year.
But it all kicks off this weekend at St Ignatius College Riverview on Oval one where the reigning champions Sydney will be taking on the likes of Queensland, NSW Country, ACT, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and an Australian Defence Force side.
Former Wallaroo and co-captain of the 2015/16 Championship-winning Australian Women’s Sevens team, Sharni Williams said,
“I started off playing women’s fifteen-a-side rugby when it basically had no national profile at all. Now, with the Buildcorp Women’s National XVs Championships, girls can get out there and impress selectors and put themselves on a pathway towards representing their country in the Buildcorp Wallaroos team.”
Aiming to represent her country at her fourth Women’s Rugby World Cup, ACT Captain Louise Burrows said the Brumbies women’s side are ready for the challenges ahead:
“We made the Final and fell to Sydney in 2015 and this showed some of our younger players of the standards required to compete at the Nationals.
“We know that Wallaroos selectors will be watching us carefully at the Championship but we are just focusing on putting our best foot forward in representing the ACT.”
Buildcorp Wallaroos Head Coach, Paul Verrell:
“The Championship is a great opportunity for players to show us how they have improved over the last 12 months.
“No position in an Australian squad is guaranteed and we want to see a strong competition for positions in an exciting year for the Buildcorp Wallaroos.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver:
“Women’s rugby is a core strategic focus for our organisation, as we strive to make Australian Rugby a game for all, and inspire all Australians to enjoy our great global game. By 2020, we want 15% of all Australian rugby players to be female.”
ARU General Manager, Ben Whitaker:
“This is an exciting opportunity for our best XVs players to put their hands up for World Cup selection.
“By committing to hosting the Women’s National XVs Championship every year and with more Wallaroos camps, we are looking to build the strongest Australian squad possible for 2017.”