ACT women fight to retain title in Canberra

The ACT’s Women’s Sevens side will fight to keep its championship title this weekend when the national tournament heads to the AIS.

It’s the first time the tournament has come to Canberra, with the AIS hosting games on both Saturday (8 March) and Sunday (9 March).

The ACT side was able to dominate in 2013, defeating QLD 1 and NSW 2 in the pool stages before rallying to a 24-22 victory over AusTouch in the final.

It was a healthy improvement from the third place the team registered in the 2012 – the tournament’s inaugural year – and Head Coach David Grimmond said he was intent on seeing his squad continue that success in 2014.

“The 2014 National Sevens Championships will again be a big test for all teams with the added pressure for ACT to repeat the performances of last year’s win,” Grimmond said.

“We have a good mix of youth and experience backing up from 2012 and 2013 and although we’re not the biggest team in the tournament, we will certainly make up for this with plenty of speed and skill.

“The girls have trained tirelessly since December and after being on the road travelling to tournaments for the last four weeks we are ready to play. Two season ending injuries to players a fortnight ago has brought the team closer, and a home championships will certainly suit us.”

Captained by Australian skipper Sharni Williams who will be backed up by Nikki Stanley, the ACT side boasts plenty of experience despite losing several key players through injury.

Williams and Stanley both return to the side after tasting success in 2013, lining up alongside other championship winning players Grace Griffin, Tayla Stanford and Kelly Goodwin.

The ACT has performed well at tournaments recently in Kiama, Lake Macquarie, Penrith and Queanbeyan, and is rated a genuine chance to defend its title in 2014.

UC Brumbies Rugby Pathways Manager, Russell Ingram, said the tournament was an exciting opportunity for Australia to see the good things happening in ACT rugby.

“The Brumbies are excited about the ACT team’s prospects at the upcoming National Women’s Sevens Championships in Canberra,” Ingram said.

“They have a good chance to retain their title from 2013 following wins in recent lead-up tournaments. We expect they’ll put their best foot forward and give 110 per cent at the tournament as the team has a good mix of youth and experience.

“At the end of the day the team will be focussed on the one-percenters and hope to leave everything they’ve got on the field.

“Rugby is a game of two halves and sevens is no exception, the team are under no false illusions that the opposition will be tough, but at the final siren will have left everything they’ve got on the field.”

Competition Brief

ACT Matches:

• 9.44am Saturday, 8 March v Barbarians, AIS

• 12.06pm Saturday, 8 March v Victoria, AIS

• 3.10pm Saturday, 8 March v Victoria, AIS

• Finals commence 8am, Sunday, 9 March and are dependent on Saturday’s results (Championship

• Final is at 2.26pm, Sunday, 9 March, AIS)

• Championship Presentation 2.53pm Sunday, 9 March, AIS

ACT Women’s Sevens
1. Nikki Stanley
2. Georgia O’Neill
3. Fee Knights
4. Grace Griffin
5. Alicia Quirk
6. Sharni Williams (C)
7. Anthea Clarke
8. Tayla Stanford
9. Michelle Perry
10. Carly Hill
11. Kelly Goodwin
12. Sammy Woods