Japan women finish tour of Australia unbeaten
Historic win over the Wallaroos in the Tri-Series on Tuesday makes it three wins from three for the Sakura 15s.
Grace Hamilton will be 37 by the time Australia becomes the host location for a women’s Rugby World Cup for the first time.
Given what the number eight puts her body through with her dynamic, power-packed style of play, it will be a big ask for her to run out in front of a home crowd on the game’s biggest stage.
But whether she is there or not, the country girl from New South Wales will be one of many captivated by the event.
“Australia loves to host events and sport in Australia is huge. It is kind of what everyone lives for,” she said.
“They’ve just built a new stadium in the middle of Sydney and hopefully that’ll be one of the venues that we can use.
“It is easily accessible and with all the excitement, I’m sure it’ll get all the party-goers coming,”
With attendance record after attendance record broken during the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, Hamilton hopes that a surge of support will happen in Oceania too, especially now that New Zealand and Australia will be hosting two women’s Rugby World Cups only seven years apart.
“The crowds over there are phenomenal, even with the streaming numbers and things like that. Hopefully, we can build it up to those extents and get the crowds that they get.”
Hamilton also believes staging Rugby World Cup 2029 will not only prevent players from potentially taking up other sports – as she has done in the past with a short spell in Rugby League – but also boost participation.
“For us, it has come at a really important time, In Australia at the moment, a lot of girls are looking at different codes but now we have sights on the World Cup in 2029, it’s just going to allow resources to be made available for girls which will allow them to stay in Rugby Union.”
Australia are in Pool A as second seeds behind reigning champions and five-time winners New Zealand at Rugby World Cup 2021, played later this year.
But first up is the Pacific Four Series and an opportunity for the Wallaroos to get some invaluable game time while also righting the wrongs of their shock 12-10 defeat to Japan the other week.
On a personal level, Hamilton had a strong game with the ball in hand and seems to like playing against the Sakura 15s having been Player of the Match against them in both tests in 2019.
But there’s no disguising that the result was a reality check for a new-look Wallaroos squad containing 11 debutants.
“We definitely should have won, we didn’t execute when we needed to.
“We had an obvious physical advantage and we tried to go around them instead of through them. When we went more direct, we got a bit more pay for it.
“A lot of the girls haven’t played at that level so it was quite eye-opening for a number of people.”
Thankfully for the Wallaroos, there are still plenty of opportunities for them to iron out the deficiencies in their game before the big event in October and November.
The Pacific Four Series (6-18 June), also in New Zealand, sees them play the Black Ferns, USA and Canada, and Hamilton is very clear in her mind as to what benefits the tournament will bring.
“It’s unreal for us to get test experience because we missed out last year.
“It’s another stepping stone, another building block into the year to try and get all the girls test level experience so they are not blown away by the World Cup when it comes around.
“There’s so much talent, we just need to keep it in the game and for the girls to have time together. That’s one thing we’ve been lacking for a few years, you need that time together to get combinations right.
“The most tests we play, the better we’ll get leading into the World Cup and in the future.”