The Australian Rugby Union has appointed Chris Lane as the country’s first ever full time national women’s Sevens coach and programme co-ordinator, for the next two years.
Lane will oversee the side's development in preparation for the defence of Australia’s Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens title in 2013, and the first Olympic Rugby Sevens event, to be held in 2016 in Rio.
ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill, said the decision was historic and reflected the growth of Rugby Sevens on the international stage.
“The growth of Rugby Sevens for both the men and women around the world as a participation and elite sport has been incredible and that growth has seen it included as an Olympic Sport from 2016,” O’Neill said.
“Appointing Chris Lane as the full time coach and programme co-ordinator is a reflection of the importance we as an organisation place upon the Women’s Sevens team moving forward.
“While they are the current World Champions, if we want them to continue to compete successfully at the highest level we need to ensure they are provided with a professional coaching framework that will hopefully help them deliver a second World Championship and ultimately an Olympic Gold Medal in 2016.
“I congratulate Chris on his appointment and wish him well at his first tournament in Dubai in a little over a month.”
Pathway to Gold
Lane, who has spent the last three years running the ARU’s Pathway to Gold Program in Queensland and in the past 18 months has also looked after the Junior Gold Program, said he was very proud to have been awarded the job.
“It is a real honour to have been selected as the country’s first ever full time Australian women’s Sevens coach,” Lane said.
“I am really looking forward to the challenge of building a squad that has a strong professional culture both on and off the field.
“In the short term I believe there is a real opportunity to work closely with the men’s team to tap into their knowledge base, to help us improve our skill levels and increase our knowledge of the game of Sevens.
“Obviously my ultimate goal over the next two years is to deliver a second world title in 2013, however between now and then there is plenty of work to do to ensure we enter that tournament physically and mentally ready.”
The full time coaching position is supported by the Australian Sports Commission as part of the Australian Women’s Sevens programme at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Lane will also be responsible for developing and identifying talent during his tenure, a role he is familiar with.
“I’ve been working with ARU’s Pathway to Gold programme helping to identify and develop talent and I’ve been assisting the men’s and women’s sides to identify potential talent for the future,” Lane said.
“As it stands we have a women’s Sevens squad with a good mix of youth and experience, however with every year that passes we will need to ensure we are developing and introducing new players to the game to ensure there is a natural transition from the current to the new generation.
“The relationship we enjoy with Touch Football has delivered some impressive players to us already, including Lizzie Campbell, Emily Cherry and Alicia Quirk, who all impressed in the recent Central Coast Tournament.
“This relationship, along with our National Gold programmes, will ensure there is a constant stream of talented young women knocking on the door of the national selectors.”
Lane will officially coach the side at their first international tournament in Dubai in early December when the women join the men at the first IRB-sanctioned women's Sevens event, to be played alongside the second Round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, in Dubai.
The Australian Women’s Sevens team will also be joined in Dubai by former Wallaroo flanker player Selena Tranter, who has taken up the role of Team Manager.
The most capped Wallaroo of all time, Tranter appeared at three 15-a-side Women’s Rugby World Cups as well the inaugural 2009 Women’s Sevens Rugby World Cup, where she helped the side to glory.