New Zealand are on the way home with the Dubai Cup in the hold, Australia’s Olympic gold medallists showed that they are human after all, a surprise third-place finish for Russia and real competition for the dream team.
All in all, there was lots to talk about from the first round of the women’s series in Dubai and World Rugby commentator Sean Maloney was happy to give his thoughts on the first series tournament post-Rio.
“The Dubai tournament was as good as I thought it would be. It was outstanding. These women just continue to thrill and to keep things rolling, off the back of Rio, was great to see.
“New Zealand really deserved to win. They were basically down to 10 players for the duration of the tournament and the way they muscled up in the final was exceptional. I thought Sarah Goss was outstanding, as was HSBC Player of the Final Kelly Brazier and Michaela Blyde, who helped get New Zealand over.
Blyde scored 10 tries over the weekend and was one of the first names on the Dubai dream team.
“Speaking to Mel Robinson, my fellow commentator who obviously knows a lot about New Zealand women’s sevens, she said it was great to see Blyde being played in position for the first time in a while. When you give her that width and some space to move, it was always going be interesting.”
Russia, who failed to qualify for Rio 2016 after losing to Spain in the repechage final, impressed over the weekend and beat England to go home with bronze.
“Russia beating Canada in that quarter-final was the upset of the weekend for me, I had them marked to get to the semis but Russia rolled them on day two. Alena Mikhaltsova was really effective as was Daria Bobkova. Russia love playing in Dubai – they made the finals last year – and it will be interesting to see how they progress this season.”
The series moves to Sydney in February where women’s sevens has blossomed, especially since Australia won the series in May and Olympic gold in August.
Maloney says the explosion in popularity of the women’s game in Australia has been remarkable.
“It gives me such joy, as the father of a five year old girl, to see the expression on my daughter’s face when Australia won gold – and that has been replicated all over the country.
“We’ve seen pop-up women’s sevens tournaments starting up out of absolutely nowhere. We have little girls dressing up dressing up as Australian sevens players! That’s unbelievable in a sports mad country like Australia,” he added
The women’s series will kick-off on the Friday and Saturday, with the men’s competition running on Saturday and Sunday in the Allianz and Kippax Stadiums.
“I expect Sydney is going to be massive. There’s a massive broadcast push behind it. The whole city embraced the sevens last time and the city is in love, not just with the Aussie women’s team, but the game of Sevens itself.”
For more details on where you can get tickets to the second round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Sydney, please click here.