After a disappointing result in Kitakyushu it was awesome to see the girls bounce back and finish a close second to New Zealand in Langford.
Being Canada’s home tournament we all knew that our final pool game against them would be tough, so to defeat them at home gave the girls great confidence leading into finals day.
Waking up in the middle of the night and watching the girls from home is always so nerve-racking, so when they took down the French in the semi-final I couldn’t get back to sleep, I was so excited.
The final between us and New Zealand was a very exciting game. It was the closest that we had been to beating them this season and all of us back home were jumping with excitement with one minute to go.
The last call to end the game was slightly controversial, but in saying this we had ample opportunity to clock on some more points throughout the game but just didn’t capitalise on it.
Hot weather training
When the girls arrived back in Australia, we all had a couple of days off to recover and return fresh, ready to prepare the best we could for the final tournament in Biarritz.
It was starting to get a little bit cooler in Australia but when I say cooler I mean the temperatures were about 22 degrees Celsius! So, our coaching staff decided that we needed to do some heat acclimation to prepare for the European summer that would hit us when we arrived in Biarritz.
We are “fortunate” enough to have access to a heat chamber room at our training base, so we did four cross-training sessions in a room with the temperature cranked up to 36 degrees Celsius.
Thinking that it must be bloody hot in Biarritz I packed my suitcase with all summer clothes, only to google the weather at the airport and see that the top temperatures are about 22 degrees Celsius and that it is predicted to be raining almost every day. I feel like we were definitely stitched up with the heat acclimation sessions … but that’s okay, anything that helps us to be better right?
This is the first time a tournament has been held in Biarritz, so I am sure everyone is looking forward to the new experience. When we played in Paris last year the crowd was unbelievable. I remember barely being able to hear my team-mates on the field over the chanting of the French crowd. Gosh, rugby really does take us to some pretty cool places!
I’m also super pumped to be back in the squad and have a chance to play in the final tournament of the season!
Looking at our pool we will have our work cut out for us to finish on top of our pool. We will be facing Spain, Ireland and Canada and after crunching some numbers, have worked out that we will need to at least make the quarter-finals to secure automatic Olympic qualification.
Rhiannon Byers, one of our young guns that was picked up from the Aon University Sevens Series, will be making her debut this weekend. Rhi has been working super hard at training and I know we all cannot wait to see her rip up the field in the green and gold.
How special it would be to make your debut for Australia and qualify for the Olympics all in one weekend!
Obviously winning tournaments is fantastic and has certainly been what we aim for each tournament, but our ultimate goal for this season was to qualify for Tokyo 2020. So, if we can secure a quarter-final spot this weekend and be in the top four for automatic qualification, then we have achieved what we wanted to.
Even if we took a slightly longer and more stressful path to get there. There are many different routes to your final destination right, what’s the fun in picking the easiest one? In saying this I think next time I would be totally OK with taking the easy one!
New Zealand have been phenomenally strong all season and are sitting in first place with the USA, Canada and then us rounding out the top four. If we can finish off the HSBC France Women's Sevens with a gold medal we could potentially bump up our placing, pending on other results. I think this would be a fitting end to the hard work that we’ve put in, particularly in the back end of this season.
“The perfect ending to any day, race or project is to finish strong” – Gary Ryan Blair