Australia and New Zealand are preparing for the Oceania Women’s Sevens Championship in Fiji this weekend, but the excitement around London 2012 has made players from both sides realise they could be at the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Rugby Sevens makes its debut in the Brazilian capital in 2016 and Australia and New Zealand are sure to be among the contenders to claim historic gold medals in both the men’s and women’s events.
Rebecca Tavo, the Australian captain, was part of the Wallaroos side that won the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens crown in Dubai back in 2009 and would love to be part of the Australian team for Rio 2016.
“You try not to think about it too much because it’s still four years away,” Tavo said.
“But with everyone staying up late and getting behind the current Olympic team in London it’s hard not to think how amazing it would be to be part of an Olympic campaign.
“It’s amazing to think that we will have an opportunity to compete at the Olympics in four years, it’s very exciting.
“Even from a spectator point of view I think Rugby Sevens is going to be one of the fan favourites in the Rio Games.”
The ultimate in sport
A sentiment echoed by her New Zealand counterpart Huriana Manuel, who was in the side beaten 15-10 in sudden-death extra time by their Trans-Tasman rivals in the RWC Sevens 2009 final.
“It’s a good motivation of where we want to aspire to be in four year’s time. It’s awesome watching the Olympics,” admitted Huriana, twice a Women’s Rugby World Cup winner in the Fifteens game.
“It’s a great opportunity … Who can say they have been to the Olympics?
“I think it’s great for the Women’s Game and so exciting for the younger generation to look forward to this. We’ve never had anything like it before. The Olympics are the ultimate.”
Australia and New Zealand have already qualified for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in the Russian capital of Moscow by their position in 2009, but are eager to kick-start their ‘Road to Rio’ with success in the Oceania Women’s Sevens Championship.
The Wallaroos are joined by Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands in Pool A with New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tonga in Pool B. The best placed team outside of Australia and New Zealand will compete in the Asian regional qualifier for RWC Sevens 2013, from which three teams will book their ticket to Moscow.