The University of Queensland will play a pivotal role in a ground-breaking advent for female sport, following confirmation UQ will field a team in the inaugural national women’s rugby sevens competition.
UQ students, as well as members of Australia’s Rio 2016 gold medal-winning women’s rugby sevens squad, will represent Team UQ in the inaugural AON Women’s Uni Sevens Series.
The competition, developed by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), will feature eight universities representing five states and territories.
The all-women’s competition, commencing August 2017 and running until October, will consist of four two-day tournaments, with a cumulative points score used to determine a series winner.
UQ will host the series’ second tournament at the UQ Sport Athletics Centre in September.
Members of the Australian women’s sevens squad, and state-level representative players, will be divided amongst the participating teams.
Each squad will also comprise a minimum 50 per cent quota of university students.
ARU General Manager of High Performance Ben Whitaker said the AON Women’s Uni Sevens Series will fill a gap in the existing Women’s Sevens pathway.
“It will be an elite domestic competition with a national footprint, which will act as a stepping stone towards national selection,” Mr Whitaker said.
“The best rugby sevens players in the country will take part, so it’ll be fantastic to watch.”
UQ’s inclusion in the competition continues the university’s rich history of women’s rugby, with The University of Queensland Rugby Football Club (UQ Rugby Club) fielding women’s teams for the past 23 years.
UQ Rugby Club General Manager Cameron Chater said the competition will strengthen both grassroots and professional rugby union in Australia.
“The Women’s Uni Sevens Series will provide a fantastic opportunity for UQ student-athletes to showcase their skills on a national stage, while also completing their tertiary education at one of Australia’s premier universities,” Mr Chater said.
“The players will be exposed to professional training programs and tournaments, which will set a fantastic benchmark for what is required to play at an international level.”
The UQ Rugby Club will take responsibility for Team UQ’s player recruitment, coaching appointments and training schedule, while the UQ Sport Academy will provide strength and conditioning support.