Australian Women’s Sevens coach Tim Walsh has heaped praise on co-captain Charlotte Caslick and the squad as they claimed a historic Commonwealth Games gold medal.
They did it the hard way, becoming the first team to lose in the group stages to go and claim the gold medal as they defeated Fiji 22-12 in Birmingham.
To put it in perspective, the closest a champion team had come to losing in the group stages was New Zealand’s 26-12 win over Scotland in 2002.
It highlights the class of the Australian team to come back and overcome the threat of the defending champion Kiwis in the semi-finals before blowing out the Fijians in the Final, with Caslick and fellow Sevens legend Sharni Williams the catalysts in both performances.
When you look at a highlight package of Caslick, it’s the trademark step and acceleration, the looping, accurate passes and the killer instinct that shine through.
This often takes away from the 27-year-old’s incredible defensive ability, completely on display in this final with a pair of heroic efforts.
With a minute to go in the half, the Fijians searched for points down 10-0 after a scrum penalty and made a promising break, only for Caslick to get over the ball and earn the turnover.
Two phases later, fellow leader Madison Ashby bursts through a hole and scores under the posts, pushing the lead out beyond two converted tries.
With time running out in the half, Fiji made a break shortly after the kick off as they created the three-on-two overlap.
This is where the incredible defensive IQ of Caslick comes into play, trusting Dom Du Toit to slide and close down the advantage before reading the wrap play and making a crunching tackle on Adi Vani Buleki to force the mistake.
This left Walsh with nothing but praise for the soon-to-be-crowned World Rugby Player of the Year along with the rest of his champion side.
“Second Objective for 2022 achieved. The team executed when it really counted and it wasn’t luck. I believed we worked harder and smarter than every other team,” he said.
“There were many family and friends there to support us and the memories tonight will last a lifetime. Players and staff of all experiences were challenged and learned something about themselves during this campaign and we are a far better team for the experience.
“All players contributed here in Birmingham and back in Sydney but I cannot remiss to mention the empress of Sevens, Charlotte Caslick was phenomenal once again. One of Australia’s best athletes.”
It adds further silverware to an already dominant season for the Sevens squad, with the trophy cabinet likely to head into overflow at RA HQ if they continue their pace.
The gold medals will sit nicely alongside the World Series title as well as event titles in Dubai (x2), Seville and Langford over the past nine months, with their status as favourites for September's Rugby Sevens World Cup cemented.
Reflecting on the achievement, Caslick, who spoke about her desire to complete the Sevens sweep, believes it was further validation for an incredible transformation and season for the program.
“I think after a dominate performance against New Zealand, that gave us plenty of confidence coming into this game and we started unbelievable,” Caslick said after the match.
“I wouldn’t say it was perfect (performance) but it was close to.
“We’ve had an amazing World Series and has been a dominant year so to be rewarded in front of an awesome crowd is pretty special.”