4 May 2017
Sydney has named a squad of 24 players, including 11 Wallaroos in their quest to win a record 5th consecutive national title at the 2017 Buildcorp National Women's XV Championships, to be held in QLD from Friday 12th May to Sunday 14th May.
Amongst the players, six will make their National Championship debuts while 17 of the girls were part of the 2016 Championship winning team. Captaining the side once again will be veteran flyhallf Ashleigh Hewson, who brings to the role both strong leadership and experience.
Last Sunday, Sydney faced arch rivals ACT in a replay of the 2016 Nationals finals clash, played as the curtain raiser to the super rugby Brumbies v Blues match at Bruce Stadium Canberra. The match was also the last chance for members of the Sydney squad of 27 to make their case for selection for Nationals, with three players facing omission. Hampering the decision-making process for head coach Rob Baumann and backs coach Peter Hammond were a number of injuries to key players.
Speaking after Sydney's 13-3 victory over ACT, Baumann praised his players for their tenacity against an ACT side full of quality players who were equally determined to impress in front of a home crowd, yet he noted there was still much work to be done over the next two weeks.
"ACT proved to be a solid hit out and it was a tight affair - just what we needed in our final trial before selecting the squad to travel to Nationals," said Baumann.
"It wasn't pretty in parts, but we got the job done. The most pleasing aspect was our defensive effort which I felt was first class. The girls had limited ball during the last 15 minutes of the game and held out multiple phases of attack from a determined ACT side."
"We were good in patches, bad in patches, ugly in patches and outstanding in some aspects of the game. We missed numerous chances in attack through bad handling, pushing passes and bad decision making, however the physical aspect of our game was solid and at the end of the day we got the result." he said.
"Grace Hamilton, Fi Jones, Shontelle Stowers all impressed with a solid effort from the tight five in the middle of the park. Sarah Laman also played some good rugby, doing some tough work at the breakdown which often goes unnoticed."
Sydney have traditionally dominated Nationals, winning the title a record 10 times since 2003. Victory in 2017 will be the 5th consecutive win for Sydney, with QLD the only other state to hold the National title.
While Baumann has been happy with the progress of his squad, he said the other teams cannot be under-estimated, particularly as Sydney has been impacted by injuries and the retirement of key players, including Wallaroos Michelle Bailey, Chloe Butler and Danielle Meskell who will not be competing this year.
"Most certainly it will be tougher this year, in my opinion. We are the current champions and teams will want to challenge us. The biggest threats this year will be ACT, WA and the home team QLD, however we won't be taking anyone lightly and we will treat each team with respect."
"We are in a transition at the moment, with new players coming into the side, along with experienced players retiring from the game. However I have full confidence in the team and we have some outstanding players."
"We certainly have plenty to do before Nationals in two weeks. We have different, younger faces in the squad this year, potential Sydney players for years to come and I am pleased with the way we are progressing," said Baumann.
Defending champions Sydney have drawn Pool A, which will include Western Australia, South Australia and the Australian Defence Force Rugby Union. Last year's other finalist, ACT have drawn Pool B and will face off against NSW Country, QLD and Victoria for their tilt at the Championship title.
The 2017 Buildcorp National Women’s XV Championship will be one of the last chances players from all states will be able to impress national selectors to be named in the Wallaroos squad ahead of the 2017 Womens Rugby World Cup, which will be held in Ireland later this year from Wednesday 9th August - Saturday 26th August 2017.
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2017 Buildcorp National Women's XV Championships
Date: Friday 12th May to Sunday 14th May
Venue: Sports Super Centre, Runaway Bay, Gold Coast QLD
2017 SYDNEY WOMEN'S SQUAD:
Illiseva Batibasaga (Syd Uni) ^#
Kim Davey (Syd Uni) #
Ashleigh Hewson (Syd Uni) Captain ^#
Kirrily Laws (Syd Uni) *
Chloe Leaupepe (Warringah) ^#
Crystal Maguire (Warringah) *
Cobie Jane Morgan (Warringah) ^#
Shanice Parker (Warringah) *
Kayla Sauvao (Parramatta) *
Shontelle Stowers (Warringah) ^#
Emily Chancellor (Syd Uni) #
Gabby Hall (Waverley) *
Grace Hamilton (Syd Uni) ^#
Evelyn Horomia (Warringah) #
Fiona Jones (Syd Uni) #
Ariana Kaiwai (Blacktown) ^#
Sarah Laman (Warringah) ^#
Victoria Latu (Parramatta) #
Penelope Leiataua (Syd Uni) #
Natalie MacLarn (Warringah)
Sara Naiqama (Syd Uni) #
Emily Robinson (Warringah) ^#
Tas Sheppard (Syd Uni) *
Alexandra Sulusi (Parramatta) #
Head Coach: Rob Baumann
Backs Coach: Peter Hammond
Team Operations Manager: Erin Morton
Note: Team listed in alphabetical order
* = National Championship Debut in 2017
^ = Capped Buildcorp Wallaroo
# = Represented Sydney in 2016
2017 BUILDCORP NATIONAL WOMEN'S XV CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW:
Australian Defence Force
MATCH DAY 1 - FRIDAY 12 MAY
8.30am Sydney v SA
9.30am WA v ADFRU
10.30am QLD v NSW Country
11.30am ACT v Victoria
1.00pm Sydney v ADFRU
2.00pm WA v SA
3.00pm ACT v NSW Country
4.00pm QLD v Victoria
MATCH DAY 2 - SATURDAY 13 MAY
9.30am ADFRU v SA
11.00am NSW Country v Victoria
12.30pm Sydney v WA
2.00pm ACT v QLD
MATCH DAY 3 - SUNDAY 14 MAY
8.30am 4th Pool A v 4th Pool B
9.45am 3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B
11.00am 2nd Pool A v 2nd Pool B
12.30pm 1st Pool A v 1st Pool B
National Championship Winners (since 2003):
2003 Sydney Gold
2004 Sydney White
2005 Sydney Gold
2014 Not held
Sydney's Final Results in 2016 Buildcorp National Women's XV Championship:
Final, held at Riverview College NSW 26 June 2016:
Sydney 35 def ACT 3
Sydney 35 (Tries 5: Kim Davey, Ashleigh Hewson, Evelyn Horomia, Hanna Sio, Alexandra Sulusi; Cons 2: Ashleigh Hewson 2; Pens 2: Ashleigh Hewson 2)
ACT 3: (Pens 1: Tayla Stanford)
2017 Women's Rugby World Cup
Date: Wednesday 9th August - Saturday 26th August 2017
Venue: Ireland (matches to be played in Belfast and Dublin)
Reigning Champions: England
Last WRWC held in 2014 (note: after 2017 the WRWC will go back to being hosted every 4 years)
About Sydney Women's Rugby Union:
Sydney Women's Rugby Union (SWRU) is the governing body that administers the participation pathways for female players in metropolitan NSW. The Union also manages the Sydney Women's premiership competition (The Jack Scott Cup) that is held annually around club venues in Sydney and currently comprises seven teams.
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Sydney Uni v Warringah, 3pm, Boronia Park