ACT women claim national sevens title

A spirited second-half fight back has powered the ACT to a 24-22 win over Touch Football Australia in the Cup final of the National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship at Riverview on Sunday.

Competing in the National Championship tournament for the first time, Touch Football Australia took a 17-5 lead at half time, but ACT fired back with three tries to one in the second half to claim the title.

The team was skippered by Sutton player Amanda Singh.

Australian Sevens representative Sharni Williams was thrilled with the win and said the competition in women’s Sevens continued to strengthen.

“It was a gutsy effort,” Williams said.

“There’s a lot of talent at this tournament. A lot of girls are getting involved, especially with the Olympics on the horizon.”

ACT stand-in coach Ron Giteau, father of ACT player Kristy and former Wallaby Matt Giteau, was proud of the collective effort of his side, which was not favoured to win the tournament.

“We had girls who have played at a higher level before and girls who really rose to the challenge today so it’s an unbelievable result,” Giteau said.

“When we came to the tournament we were worrying about other sides, but by the end they were worrying about us.”

Giteau also praised the lead-up work done by regular ACT coach Dave Grimmond who was unable to attend the tournament due to work.

“It’s full credit to the team and to Dave Grimmond. The girls stood up and were outstanding.” Giteau said.

Australian Sevens representative Emilee Cherry scored twice for Touch Football Australia, while Evania Pelite-Denny and Emma Tonegato also crossed over. Alicia Quirk kicked one conversion.

ACT’s tries were scored by Williams and former Australian representative Kristy Giteau, who notched a hat-trick. Williams also added two conversions.

Touch Football Australia coach Wayne Grant said his side had turned heads just making it to the final in their first foray into Rugby Sevens.

“To make the Cup final is beyond our wildest dreams really, there’s a lot of transferable skills between touch football and Sevens and it’s rewarding to make it to the final,” Grant said.

“It’s disappointing that we lost but there are a lot of positives to take from it.”

Qantas Women’s Sevens coach Chris Lane was in attendance at the tournament and was impressed with the level of competition on display.

“This is our second year of the Championship and the rise in standard from last year to this year is quite noticeable,” Lane said.

“This tournament is massively important. To see these players compete against each other at this level is a huge advantage for us as national selectors and is creating a pathway for the players.”

The National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship featured more than 150 players across 14 sides competing in Sydney over two days.

The Championships featured two teams each from New South Wales and Queensland, one each from Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. It also featured the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team’s National Indigenous side, Papua New Guinea’s national Sevens side, a Barbarians invitational team, Touch Football Australia and Australian OzTag.

The National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championships were introduced by Australian Rugby Union last year as a way to further develop the player pathway for women’s Rugby in Australia.

Pool Matches - Saturday
Pool Match 1 - ACT vs Northern Territory
Final Score: 57-0
Tries: Grace Hammond 1, Grace Griffin 1, Kelly Goodwin 1, Kristy Giteau 1, Tayla Stanford 1, Kim Ashby 1, Nikky Stanley 2, Grace Hammond 1, Sharni Williams 1
Conversions: Sharni Williams 3, Tayla Stanford 3

Pool Match 2 - ACT v Queensland 1
Final Score 12-5
Tries: Kristy Giteau 1, Kelly Goodwin 1
Conversions: Sharni Williams 1

Pool Match 3 – ACT v NSW 2
Final Score 29-0
Tries: Kelly Goodwin 2, Kristy Giteau 1, Nikki Stanley 1, Sharni Williams 1
Conversions: Sharni Williams 2

Finals - Sunday
Semi Final – ACT v Australian Oztag
Final Score 27-0
Tries: Grace Griffin 1, Michelle Milward 1, Kelly Goodwin 1, Nikki Stanley 1, Kristy Giteau 1
Conversions: Sharni Williams 1

Final – ACT v Touch Australia
Final Score 24-22
Tries: Kristy Giteau 3, Sharni Williams 1
Conversions: Sharni Williams 2