The best Women’s 7s talent in Queensland will compete as the Reds 7s for the first time this weekend at the newly announced AON Next Gen 7s Series, which kicks off at Bond University on Sunday 22 January.
The decision to include the Women’s 7s team as part of the official Reds programs, alongside both the Men’s Super Rugby Pacific and Women’s Super W squads, comes off the back of the program’s continued success and the cementation of the Women’s Sevens pathway at a National level, with the introduction of the Next Gen 7s series.
The new format will see the Reds compete against NSW and a Rising Stars team, comprised of players from ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, in a five-week round-robin competition.
The Queensland Women’s Sevens pathway, supported by the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS), has been a breeding ground of talent for the Australian Women’s 7s squad since its inception.
Currently 10 players within the 17-player contracted Australian squad hail from Queensland, with the most recent QAS graduates Bella Nasser, Kahli Henwood and Faythe Manera having joined the program in late 2022.
“Since it’s inception the Queensland Academy of Sport Women’s 7s program has helped develop the next generation of athletes for the Australian Women’s 7s program, while we’ve also see athletes progress through the XVs pathway as well with both Ivania Wong and Melanie Wilks traveling with the Wallaroos to last year Rugby World Cup in New Zealand,” said Reds 7s Head Coach Reg Tayler.
“We’ve been working closely with the Reds Super W program as well over the past few seasons and have had players transition between the two programs, allowing them to chase opportunities in both formats of the game.
“Currently over 50% of the Australian Women’s 7s squad consists of players who have emerged from our pathway system here in Queensland, which is an impressive nod to the talent we have in the state as well as the coaching and support staff who have helped develop players to prepare them for the next level.
“With the continued growth of both Women’s and Sevens Rugby, and the exciting opportunities we have on the horizon in Australia with a home Rugby World Cup and the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, there are plenty of opportunities on offer for aspiring young female players in Queensland with a pathway program in place to support them.”
Sisters Maddison and Teagan Levi joined the QAS Sevens pathway while still attending Miami State High School on the Gold Coast and were guided through their development before joining the Australian Women’s 7s team and winning Gold at the Commonwealth Games and Sevens World Cup in 2022.
Shannon Parry, who was part of the Australian Women’s 7s team that won Gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016, has returned to Queensland and is helping guide the next generation of Sevens players as a National Emerging Sevens Coach, is excited to see the investment Queensland has made in 7s.
“Queensland has a proven track record of investing in the Sevens space and the proof is in the quality of athletes who have graduated from the pathway system who are now the stars of the Aussie 7s team,” said Parry.
“The inclusion of the Women’s 7s program under the Reds banner is another step forward and given it is closely aligned with the Super W program, we’re providing plenty of opportunity for Queenslanders to chase their dreams.”
Queensland Rugby Union CEO David Hanham said: “While this announcement pertains to the professional level of the game, there is also a significant participation element as well. “Moving forward Queensland girls can now start their Rugby journey and aspire to play for the Reds in both formats of the game.
“There is plenty to look forward on the Rugby calendar within the next decade. We will have home Rugby World Cups for Men and Women, a home Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 2026 and of course the Brisbane Olympics in 2032. We will also this year open our National Rugby Training Centre as part of the Ballymore Redevelopment, providing a dedicated training venue that will be the first home of Women’s Rugby in Australia,
“Current Queensland juniors starting their Rugby journeys can aspire to compete at all of these events, and they can be part of the Reds as they chase their pathway to Gold.
“We have existing pathway opportunities for juniors including events including the Queensland Junior Girls 7s State Championships, Q7s tournaments such as the All Schools 7s, new representative opportunism with the Queensland Rugby Football Schools Union and in 2022, we saw U15s girls compete in XV-a-side representative Rugby at the Queensland Country Championships for the first time ever.
“As a state we continue to create opportunities for participation within both XVs and 7s and provide representative pathways for athletes that can lead to higher honours.
“It is worth mentioning our staff, namely Reg Tayler and Lachlan Parkinson - now supported by Shannon Parry, as well as the various community volunteer coaches and management staff, who have put plenty of energy and hard work into the Sevens program over the years to make it such a success.”
The Reds 7s will be in action at Bond University in Round 1 of the Next Gen 7s series this Sunday. Matches will be live streamed via Rugby Xplorer.
Reds 7s squad for Round 1 of the Next Gen 7s series:
- Georgia Sim - Bond
- Sidney Taylor (Captain) – University of Queensland
- Kahli Henwood – Easts
- Nat Wright - University of Queensland
- Sophie Duff - University of Queensland
- Bell Nasser - University of Queensland
- Kaitlin Shave (Vice Captain) - University of Queensland
- Ivana Lolesio – Easts
- Mel Wilks - Bond
- Ava Wereta - Bond
- Taylor Sykes - University of Queensland
- Amahli Hala – Bond