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Australia women's rugby

Women’s rugby sevens has never been stronger, says Walsh

The top-end of women’s sevens has never been stronger, according to Australia coach Tim Walsh, who is confident his team have what it takes to get the better of New Zealand at the upcoming HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid.

Australia’s women started the season strongly, with victories in Dubai and Cape Town, but it is the Kiwis who finished the regular season top of the pile thanks to four successive tournament wins, most recently beating Australia in the final in Singapore.

That saw them finish two points clear of Australia but while New Zealand have the long-term pedigree, Walsh believes his team have shown they can step up in the big moments.

Walsh said: “We’re shaping up really well. We had a really good tournament in Singapore. 

“We had fantastic play from a lot of the players, and we achieved a lot of the things we had been working on. We got a couple of injuries which wasn’t ideal but that’s the nature of the game. We will do our best to mitigate them and also work around them.

“It’s a really strong team, we’re really excited about heading to Madrid for the final and preparing ourselves for the Olympics as well.

“New Zealand are a world class team and have been on top for the last 12 years. We’ve managed to nudge our way in there and win a couple of series and a couple of huge benchmark events. It’s always a pretty tight battle but they have got the wood on us at the moment.

“Since Tokyo I think we have played 12 times, they have won seven and we have won five. But we managed to win the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, which are the benchmark events. 

“Hopefully we can continue that run. I think the tide will turn. If we put a performance together that is worthy of our standards, I think we’ll come away with a victory.”

Australia will head to Madrid having lost a couple of key individuals, with Lily Dick and Madison Ashby both suffering serious knee injuries that will keep them out of both the Grand Final and the Olympics in Paris.

The return of Charlotte Caslick should help to mitigate those losses, with Walsh looking for ways to reshape his team.

He added: “Both those girls, Lily, and Madison Ashby, won’t be involved in the Olympics, which is heart-breaking for the team and them. But as a programme and a team, we’re very strong in the fact that if somebody isn’t there to play, somebody will step up to take their place.

“It opens the door for other ball players to come in, or to adjust our tactics with the personnel that we have on the field. We have Charlotte (Caslick) returning and Tia Hinds, who did really well in Singapore and Hong Kong. It’s devastating for both those players.”

It’s Grand Final weekend in the heart of Madrid, featuring thrilling rugby matches and immersive cultural experiences. From the excitement on the pitch to the buzz in the air, this is one event you won’t want to miss. Be part of history in the making at the iconic Civitas Metropolitano Stadium.

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