Twenty-eight international rugby sevens captains convened at Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday ahead of the HSBC Sydney Sevens on 1-2 February.
The Australian round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 will be hosted at Bankwest Stadium for the first time with the very best of rugby sevens on show.
Sydney follows a spectacular tournament in Hamilton, New Zealand, last weekend where the hosts were victorious in both the men’s and women’s competitions.
The Hamilton and Sydney events are the first tournaments to be played across a new and exciting two-day format, which was introduced for these particular events after it was announced last year that Hamilton would become a combined men’s and women’s tournament for the first time in the history of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens.
With the 2020 tournament being Sydney’s fourth to feature a women’s competition alongside the men, this year’s event will be the most equitable yet with the two-day format ensuring that the men and women play under the same conditions over the entire tournament.
Olympic gold medallists and hosts Australia currently sit second in the overall women’s standings with the Black Ferns Sevens leading the way after winning the last three rounds in Dubai, Cape Town and Hamilton.
“Playing on home soil is the best feeling ever, I keep saying it but it’s kind of indescribable – it just gives you that one per cent extra,” said Australia captain Sharni Williams.
“I was so proud that we got to play in New Zealand but also for them [the Black Ferns Sevens] to experience their first home tournament and to understand how amazing it is.”
Australia’s men and women both lifted the trophy at the HSBC Sydney Sevens in 2018, which Williams admits is a motivator heading into this weekend.
“When we lifted the trophy alongside the men it was an experience and a memory that you hold onto. It creates you into a person that you didn’t think you could be and you go out there and you perform every single day a little bit more knowing that you’ve been able to lift that trophy in your hometown.”
Their male counterparts won their first medal of the season in Hamilton after defeating England 33-21 in the bronze final at FMG Stadium.
“Last weekend’s performance was really pleasing – it was our best result of the year so far and the things that we worked on, particularly our defence, really shone through,” said captain Nick Malouf.
“What’s exciting is that we came away with third place, but we know we’ve got lots more better performances in us if we tidy up those results against Fiji and New Zealand.”
Malouf is relishing the opportunity to play in front of a home crowd and at the Bankwest Stadium for the first time.
“This stadium is unbelievable, if you look around the supporters are right on top of you and that’s going to create an amazing atmosphere, and when we’ve got our friends and family in the crowd too, it’s going to be really good.”
Rugby Australia and World Rugby will, together in partnership, support the ongoing bushfire situation in Australia this weekend by donating $1,000 for every try scored by Australia’s men and women to the bushfire relief fund.
The HSBC Sydney Sevens is the fifth tournament in the women’s series and the fourth in the men’s this season. The series culminates in Paris on 30-31 May before 24 men’s and women’s teams will travel to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The action gets underway at 09:30 local time (GMT+11) on Saturday when USA face Fiji in the women’s competition.