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Olympic gold medallist and University of Queensland graduate Emilee Cherry is one of two Australian representatives named to represent Team UQ in the 2017 AON Uni 7s Series.
University of Queensland graduate and Olympic gold medallist Emilee Cherry (Photo: Karen Watson, ARU Media)

The inaugural competition will feature eight universities, with Australian-contracted Women’s Sevens players allocated among the participating teams.

Emilee Cherry and Australian teammate Emma Sykes will wear Team UQ colours throughout the Series, which runs from 25 August to 30 September.

Cherry, who studied a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education at UQ, was part of Australia’s women’s sevens team that won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

One of the sport’s best-known players, Cherry was named 2014 World Sevens Player of the Year, and in April this year, scored her 100th sevens try for Australia.

The 24-year-old said she looked forward to debuting for Team UQ.

“While studying at UQ, I witnessed the strong establishment of men’s rugby through the UQ Rugby Club, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity for Australia’s women’s sevens team to be at the forefront of rugby sevens in Australia,” Cherry said.

“The Uni 7s Series is a much-needed inclusion to the rugby calendar and will be extremely competitive with the inclusion of the nationally contracted players, who will help to develop and strengthen domestic competitions.

“The competition will greatly benefit the national team through continued development and talent identification.”

Like Cherry, Sykes has a strong UQ link, having represented UQ Rugby Club since 2016.

In November last year, the utility back made her international sevens debut against Fiji.

Sykes said she looked forward to playing alongside Cherry for Team UQ.

“Being able to play with Emilee is always a privilege – she’s such an amazing player and I’m sure the girls in the squad will really enjoy having Emilee around,” Sykes said.

“The Uni 7s  Series concept is definitely going to be a massive boost for women’s rugby, and will allow more girls to play at a higher level with and against some of the sport’s best players.”

Each squad must comprise a minimum 50 per cent quota of university students, with further recruitment to be led by Team UQ head coach Reg Tayler and the UQ Rugby Club.

UQ Rugby Club Cameron McIntosh, Emma Sykes, Coach Reg Tayler and Emilee Cherry

Students wishing to play for Team UQ can register their interest by emailing Cameron McIntosh (Rugby Development Manager – UQ Rugby Club) on cmcintosh@uqrugby.com.

News of Cherry and Sykes joining Team UQ follows confirmation the UQ Sport Athletics Centre will host round three of the four-round Series, with a two-day tournament to take place on 16-17 September.

Cherry said she expects the event to be well-supported.

“I’ve seen the great atmosphere at UQ Rugby Club’s Brisbane Premier Rugby matches, so I’m excited to see UQ host round three,” she said.

“I hope people from all over Brisbane come along to see women’s rugby sevens at a high level – I guarantee they’ll enjoy it.”

The event is expected to feature additional men’s and women’s sevens tournaments involving UQ Colleges and Brisbane-based rugby teams.

2017 AON Uni 7s Series teams:

University of Queensland, QLD

Griffith University, QLD

Bond University, QLD

University of New England, NSW

Macquarie University, NSW

University of Canberra, ACT

University of Adelaide, SA

University of Tasmania, TAS

2017 AON Uni 7s Series fixtures:

Round 1 – University of Tasmania Stadium, Launceston (25-26 August)

Round 2 – Macquarie University, Sydney (9-10 September)

Round 3 – UQ Sport Athletics Centre, University of Queensland (16-17 September)

Round 4 – Bond University, Gold Coast (29-30 September)

Media: Jamie Mitchell, UQ Sport, JamieM@uqsport.com.au, 0423 785 752;

Cameron Chater, University of Queensland Rugby Football Club; CameronC@uqrugby.com, 0439 900 166.