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World’s best sevens players to join Bond squad

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) today announced that Australian Women’s Sevens champions Charlotte Caslick and Brooke Walker will play for Bond University in the upcoming Women’s Aon Uni 7s Series.

Bond University’s Sevens Head Coach Ben Gollings said he and the team were very excited about the latest addition to the Gold Coast-based squad.    

“It is sensational news for us to be allocated players the calibre and profile of Charlotte and Brooke for the Uni 7s Series – they will be brilliant role models for the team,” Gollings said.

“Charlotte is widely regarded as one of the best women’s players in the world and Brooke is also an incredibly high calibre player.

“They’re coming here to better our game and their own.

“Having them in such key positions as fly half/first five and scrum half will give them great control over the game, so we anticipate their addition will have a big impact on the rest of the team and how we perform.

“The best way to improve as a player is to learn off your peers and be inspired by their experience, and there is no greater experience our girls can aspire to than an Olympic gold medal.”

Gollings said he would look to use the recruitment of the two Australian all-stars to help grow and nurture talent and promote women’s sevens across the Gold Coast and Northern New South Wales region.

Scrum-half Charlotte from Corinda, Brisbane is already a dual international having represented her country at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup as well as playing for Touch Football Australia at both age-grade and open levels.

She was named in World Rugby's 2014-15 and 2015-16 Dream Teams - she was also one of four players nominated for the 2015 World Sevens Player of the Year and starred as Australia won the first-ever rugby sevens Gold Medal in the Summer Olympics in August 2016. The 21-year-old scored seven tries throughout the competition in Rio, including one in the Gold Medal match against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand.

Brooke Walker, who originally hails from Auckland but now lives in Brisbane, won her first Women’s sevens World Series cap in Atlanta in March 2015 just a month after her Australian citizenship was granted.

Brooke was part of the Australian squad that won the Australian Youth Festival in Sydney in January 2013 alongside Charlotte and Tiana Penitani. She was also named as a travelling reserve for the Rio Olympics in August 2016.

The entire Australian Women’s Sevens squad will play in the upcoming Women’s Aon Uni 7s Series, with players to link up with the university teams around the country.

Stars of Australia’s gold medal charge at the Rio Olympic Games, including Charlotte Caslick, Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Emilee Cherry, Alicia Quirk, Chloe Dalton and Evania Pelite will bolster the university teams, ensuring that the competition kicks off with world-class players and skills on show.

The Aon Uni 7s Series will include four two-day tournaments at the University of Tasmania, Launceston (25-26 August), Macquarie University, Sydney (9-10 September), University of Queensland, Brisbane (16-17 September) and Bond University, Gold Coast (29-30 September).

Olympic Gold Medallist and Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens Co-Captain, Shannon Parry said: “To go from training and playing alongside my Aussie Sevens team mates to competing against them will be really tough, but we’re all excited about the challenge.”

“With us all spread out amongst the teams, we’ll be able to share our knowledge and experience with the next generation of players, which is a great opportunity for them and us. It’s our chance to inspire the younger girls, and knowing the competitive spirit of my team mates, all of us will be playing to win.”

Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh said he hopes the national competition lures across female athletes from other sports, as he looks to build a strong squad in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“This competition is a really exciting step forward for Women’s Rugby Sevens. Players and coaches will have the opportunity to build combinations and strategies over four tournaments and on a national stage where all the Australian scouts will be watching,” he said.

“Most of our Olympic champions started out in other sports, so I strongly encourage athletes from any sport to get involved with the competition. If you want to be a Rugby Sevens Olympian in 2020, you need to start that journey now. 

“We are looking to add some athletes with a real point of difference to our squad and we can’t wait to unearth some new talent.” 

ARU General Manager High Performance, Ben Whitaker said: “This competition is a great addition to our Rugby Sevens pathway." 

“With eight teams competing from around the country we have a solid national footprint and we have already had inquiries from other universities around the country about expanding the competition next year.

“The competition has been scheduled so that there’s no overlap with the HSBC Sevens Series so we expect it to attract interest from overseas, with the possibility for international Sevens players to compete in the future. We want this to be the best university-based Women’s Rugby Sevens competition in the world, and with the women’s university rugby scene already thriving in the US and Canada, we know we have a great opportunity to make this happen.”

The Series kicks off in August, with the tournament format to emulate the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series. 

Bond University was last week named as the venue to host the all-important final tournament of the inaugural women’s rugby Aon Uni 7s Series on September 29-30. 

2017 Women’s Aon Uni 7s Series Player Allocations: 

University of New England, NSW - Alicia Quirk and Hannah Southwell 
Macquarie University, NSW - Dominique Du Toit and Chloe Dalton 
University of Tasmania, TAS - Ellia Green, Georgie Friedrichs, and Shanice Parker 
University of Adelaide, SA - Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite and Mahalia Murphy
University of Canberra, UC - Sharni Williams and Brooke Anderson
Griffith University, QLD - Shannon Parry and Demi Hayes
Bond University, QLD - Charlotte Caslick and Brooke Walker  
University of Queensland, QLD - Emilee Cherry and Emma Sykes

2017 Women’s Aon Uni 7s Series Fixtures:

Round 1 - University of Tasmania Stadium, Launceston, 25-26 August 
Round 2 - Macquarie University fields, Sydney, 9-10 September 
Round 3 - University of Queensland fields, Brisbane, 16-17 September 
Round 4 - Bond University fields, Gold Coast, 29-30 September 

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