Australia won’t be pulling any punches when they take the field for this week’s Oceania 7s (10 – 12 November).
The Oceania 7s sees 25 teams from across the Pacific – including the Australian men and women – converge on Ballymore Stadium for 66 matches (35 men’s and 31 women’s matches) across three days.
For some, it’s a final tune-up before the new-look HSBC SVNS Series. For others, a chance to secure Olympic qualification for Paris 2024.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming Oceania 7s in Brisbane.
Men’s & Women’s Internationals
Australia’s men and women are already assured a place at next year’s Olympic Games due to finishing second and fifth respectively during last season’s World Series.
As such, they will play in pools outside of Olympic qualification, but there’ll be no love lost in their final warm-up tournament before the inaugural (and rebranded) SVNS Series kicks off in Dubai next month (2-3 December).
11 of the 13 Aussie women named are reigning Commonwealth and World Cup champions while five of the Aussie men’s side tasted World Series Victory in 2021-22.
The Aussie men will battle it out against Fiji, New Zealand, Niue, and an Oceania Barbarians side in Pool A with the top two sides progressing to a Oceania final for regional bragging rights.
Meanwhile, Australia’s women will tackle a New Zealand Development outfit five times across three days. Don’t be fooled by the development tag – the Black Fern 7s are the reigning World Series champs, and will be fielding a strong team of promising young talent.
Men’s & Women’s Olympic Qualifiers
The stakes here are enormous, with 18 teams fighting for just two Olympic berths.
Only one of ten men’s sides will qualify for Paris 2024 while only one of eight women’s teams will book their ticket to France next year.
The men’s Olympic qualifiers see pre-tournament favourites Tonga and Samoa fighting to avoid the repechage with Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, and the Solomon Islands among those chasing a major upset.
It’s a massive challenge for Tongan men's coach Tevita Tuifua, who is hoping to steer his country to a maiden berth at the Olympics.
“We understand that the Oceania 7s will be a highly competitive tournament with strong teams vying for success. However, we believe in our squad's abilities, their work ethic, and the lessons learned from past challenges. We are eager to bring our best to the competition and strive for success once again,” Tuifua said.
“It represents not only a chance to showcase our talent on the global stage but also a testament to the hard work and dedication of our players, support staff, Tonga Rugby Union, and government. It would be a source of inspiration for our entire nation.”
Samoa’s men’s coach, Brian Lima, branded the Oceania 7s as a chance to make amends after narrowly missing automatic qualification last season.
“Although we were extremely disappointed that we missed out on automatic qualification, we are aware that the Oceania 7s is perhaps our best chance to qualify, with New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia having already qualified,” Lima said.
“It is critical that we make use of this opportunity because, should we fail, the chances will be even more difficult, with South Africa, Great Britain, and Ireland also vying for the remaining spots in the final Olympic repechage next year”.
Meanwhile, Fiji are tipped to take out the women’s Olympic qualifier and chase another podium finish following their Tokyo bronze medal.
Fijiana 7s coach Saiasi Fuli said they will use this competition as a platform to gain some game time while keeping an eye on the prize.
“It's a massive opportunity for us as a team to prepare well and play in these upcoming Oceania 7s,” Fuli said.
“We are into our preseason phase, and our girls are looking forward to playing in the Oceania 7s and trying to secure a spot for the Paris Olympics. We missed out on the series until the final day in Toulouse, and we as a group had set our goal to rest well, recover, and prepare for the qualification.”
View Tournament Fixture here.
Australian Men's Squad - Oceania 7s
Australian Women's Squad - Oceania 7s
Dominique Du Toit