Dubai: New Zealand are the clear favourites at the World Rugby Sevens and incoming Australian coach John Manenti feels it is the responsibility of the Dubai defending champions to rise to the occasion when the women’s competition kicks off at The Sevens ground today.
“Two or three years back there were just three or four teams at the top. Now there are seven, eight or even nine teams that can upset. The quality has gone up and yes, it’s getting harder. I think New Zealand have a right to be the favourites. Their consistency in the past 12 months has been great and they are well and truly on top,” Manenti told media at the official press conference on Wednesday.
“We need to challenge them and make inroads. There are a lot of teams in the chasing pack. France proved and continue to prove they are going well. USA proved very good at home in Glendale. Canada bounced back from an indifferent year on the back of a lot of injuries. Everyone’s putting their hands up and the responsibility lies with us to show that we are going to improve as well,” he added.
A former prop for Sydney clubs Western Suburbs and Sydney University, Manenti took over Australia’s sevens squad following the departure of Tim Walsh earlier this year. “We have a couple of seniors going out, so we’ve had the chance to bring in some new youngsters. Alisha [Quirk] is back in the squad as she was desperate to come as last year she missed out and we won. She wants to come and bring some balance in the team. He knowledge of opposition is huge as well,” Manenti disclosed.
“The standard of the girls’ competition has really improved. The rise started from the World Cup [in 2017 in Ireland] and continued with the first tournament in Glendale [opening round of the 2019 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Colorado] has been quite significant. Hopefully, we can continue with our momentum,” he added.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Women
- A: New Zealand, Ireland, Russia, Kenya.
- B: Australia, USA, England, China.
- C: Fiji, France, Canada, Spain.
Fixtures: France v Spain; (12.22) Canada v Fiji; (12.44) Australia v England; (1.06) USA v China; (1.28) Ireland v Russia; (1.50) New Zealand v Kenya; (2.56) France v Fiji; (3.18) Canada v Spain; (3.40) Australia v China; (4.02) USA v England; (4.24) Ireland v Kenya; (4.46) New Zealand v Russia; (5.53) Spain v Fiji; (6.15) Canada v France; (6.37) England v China; (6.59) USA v Australia; (7.21) Russia v Kenya; (7.43) New Zealand v Ireland.