The Perfect event: Golden girls reflect on 2018 Sydney Sevens and Australia’s historic tournament

Wed, Jan 25, 2023, 4:38 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Aussies 7s women made history in Sydney, becoming the first team to win their home World Series tournament and going through the competition without conceding a point.

Never been done, never happened again.

The 2018 Sydney Sevens is a historic event for Australian Rugby, with the women becoming the first team to go through a tournament without conceding a point, finishing with a points difference of 213-0.

HSBC SYDNEY SEVENS TICKET FINAL RELEASE: GET YOUR TICKETS TO RUGBY’S BIGGEST PARTY NOW!

This was coupled with the men also claiming the title, the lone occasion both sides have been crowned champions at the same event.

The Australians entered Sydney with plenty to prove, shell-shocked by Canada a year earlier in the semi-finals of their maiden event at home.

It set the scene for a frustrating 2016-17 World Series, the first time Tim Walsh's side hasn’t won an event since the inaugural season.

The Aussies set the tempo for Sydney three months earlier, starting the freakish run of form with a 34-0 win over the USA in the Dubai Final.

Heading into Sydney with momentum, the return of gold medalists Ella Green (knee) and Alicia Quirk (ankle) boosted the side as thumped Spain (29-0), Papua New Guinea (50-0) and France (43-0).

They repeated their Spain efforts to start day two with a 29-0 victory before setting up a grudge match with New Zealand after defeating Russia 31-0.

Following their classic gold medal match at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Black Ferns Sevens dominated their Australian counterparts.

Aussie women make it to Cup final

They beat them in three series finals to claim the 2016-17 World Series and had swept through Sydney with similar ease, going through the finals without conceding a point.

However, there was nothing stopping the Aussies on that day, with co-captain Shannon Parry setting the tone with a brutal hit in the opening seconds, scoring the first try of the game.

Superstar Charlotte Caslick extended the lead and by the time Green had dived over, the title was all but wrapped up as.

The only milestone left was the perfect tournament as the Kiwis went on the attack after the siren, unable to penetrate the gold wall that stood in front of them even down to six towards the end of the match.

When they tried to go over it via the boot, Emma Tonegato secured their place in history, diving on the ball in the in-goal as the magnitude of the moment hit the side following the 31-0 win.

“It’s nice memories and I don’t think (the perfect record) will ever be equalled. I’ll never say never but it’s an incredible feat," coach Tim Walsh said.

“It was a different team and that for me was what I thought was going to be the last World Series with the women and we were close as a group, it was like a fairytale. That last play when New Zealand kicked it and Emma Tonegato gathered and before she even put it down she was crying.

“It was an emotional time because it was an unbelievable record and the last (at Allianz) in Sydney. I had my wife there who was pregnant, my son was there and then the boys went on to win as well, god you couldn’t have scripted it better.

“Very memorable and not a fluke in terms of the way things were planned and prepared, the hard work always pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t pay off how you want or it exceeds expectations but this one certainly exceeds it. It was a reflection on where the program and the players were at, which was unstoppable.”

The Sevens side celebrate their place in history

As they return to Allianz Stadium for the first time since the historic event, there are three players left in the program from the 12-player squad: Charlotte Caslick, Sharni Williams and Dom Du Toit, with Caslick's fellow co-captain Demi Hayes the standby player at the time.

It is an achievement they hold as high as their Olympic and Triple Crown success, with the program undergoing a significant transformation since.

The likes of Parry and Georgina Friedrichs remain in Rugby, just in the 15-a-side format, whilst Tonegato, Green, Chloe Dalton and Evania Petite are among those that have moved on either into retirement or to dominate another code.

In their place steps a new generation with their own history to back up after finishing 2021 as the best team in Australia.

As a result of COVID, it will be the first chance established superstars such as Maddison Levi, Faith Nathan and Madison Ashby will get the opportunity to run out in front of a home crowd.

As Walsh explained, there's no feeling like it.

“It’s ultimate,” he believes.

“We’re so lucky we get to play in Dubai, Toulouse, all the most glamour places around the world (but) our inner circle is the coaches and partners. They brought up these athletes, made them who they are and we’re adding the cherry on top and building them as a team. To play in front of them, it means so much to them, mind you half of them travel across the worlds with us (laughs) but it’s just another event and memory to create.

“The journey to performance is the fun bit and if you do the hard work, you get to celebrate. Celebrating at home is quite nice as well not having to travel 15 hours hungover or jet-lagged, just roll across.”  

FROM THE PLAYERS' PERSPECTIVE

CHARLOTTE CASLICK

“I think outside winning a gold medal, I think it’s my favourite tournament ever."

“Not conceding a point and with the boys winning, just with being at home and everything about it was so much fun.

“Hopefully we can do the same thing this weekend. We have a great pool that will hopefully set us up for the quarter-finals on Saturday. For us, we’re focusing on our processes but to be back at home for some of the girls will be the first time ever playing at Sydney Sevens which is going to be exciting.”

SHARNI WILLIAMS

“Thats was unreal. There were some pretty cool milestones to look back on." 

“You don’t go into a tournament to go ‘we’re not getting to get no points scored against us’, yeah we talk about doughnuts and we don’t want people to score but we don’t expect the whole tournament to go that way.

“That was a special moment but this is a different group and team. It’s going to be unreal out there. 

“To play on home soil is the best thing ever, you have people yelling and screaming, partying with the noise for you instead of against so. It can really change a game and in Sevens you have a split second to be able to and if someone yells out ‘Go Aussies’ then bang you’re on. That’s what we are looking forward to, showcasing what we’ve been building and then being able to play it back here in Australia.”

DOM DU TOIT

“I’ve got very fond memories from that tournament, it’s probably one of my favourite in Sevens history."

“Also winning alongside the men, I think that was the first time we’d done that together at a home tournament so the girls have all prepared really well.

“We’ve had a great season coming off the back of a fantastic year. I wouldn’t say we’re used to the pressure but we know how to handle it leading into this tournament back at home.”

DEMI HAYES

"Last time, I was (the) 13th player and got to experience that from the ground and it was honestly one of the highlights of my career and I was."

"I think if that happened again...that's our goal from both team's perspective every time. We work hard, stay in our processes and take every game as it comes ticking off those wins.

"We don't look too far ahead but that's definitely our goal to take that tournament away."

Share

Latest News

AU7s

Aussie 7s are proud part of Rugby AU

© 2023 Rugby Australia. All rights reserved. Part of the Rugby Network