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Australian Schools Rugby News : March 2010
IRB SEVENS 7 The IRB International Sevens tournament moved to Australia in March for the fifth round of its eight round competition. After tournaments in Dubai, George, Wellington and Las Vegas it was a chance for the improving Australians to display their new found confidence in front of their home fans. However, those expected to see the high profile tournament in Australia’s Rugby heartland of Sydney, Brisbane or Canberra needed to review their travel plans as the tournament was conducted in the AFL stronghold of South Australia with the picturesque Adelaide Oval serving as the backdrop for this major international rugby event. With former dual international Michael O’Connor at the coaching helm, the Australian team has been steadily improving since the first round in Dubai late last year and are quickly establishing a reputation as genuine contenders in the 2010 competition. After one fourth (Las Vegas) and two fifth place (Dubai & Wellington) finishes in the early rounds, the squad up the ante on home soil reaching the Cup semi-final for the second time in as many tournaments. The policy of picking a high percentage of younger players has paid dividends early in the competition with solid results recorded in each of the first five rounds. The squads that have taken the field early in the campaign for Australia have been heavily loaded with players from recent Australian Schoolboys teams. Perhaps, given that O’Connor’s role with the ARU has included involvement with Australian Schools team selections since 2002, this should come as no great surprise. Up to this point eight Australian Schools players in total and six from the past three years have played in Australia’s 2010 Seven’s team. Most notably from the current squad is team captain, Patrick McCutcheon, who captained the Australian Schoolboys on their tour to the UK in 2005 and also captained St Joseph’s College and NSW Schools that same year. At the ripe old age of 22 McCutcheon could be excused for feeling old amongst his current crop of team mates. In fact two players in the current squad, Liam Gill and Kimami Sitauti, were playing for the Australian Schoolboys on the 2009 UK tour when the first round of the IRB Sevens tournament was played in Dubai back in early December. Incredibly, Gill, a product of St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace will not turn 18 until June. Three other Queenslanders Sitauti (Nudgee College/QLD/ Australian Schools 2009), Dom Shipperley (Nudgee College/ QLD/Australian Schools 2008) and Ed Quirk (Brisbane State High/QLD/Australian Schools 2008) are yet to turn 19. Similarly, Robbie Coleman (St Edmund’s College/ACT/Australian Schools 2008) and Tala Gray (St Kevin’s College/Victoria/Combined States/Australian Schools 2007) are yet to turn 20 years of age. The final Australian Schools product who, in such youthful company, carries the veteran tag is recent NRL convert Shaun Foley (Waverley College/NSW/Australian Schools 2004) who will turn 24 in August. In addition to the eight players listed above there are also a couple of other recent Liam Gill KimamiSitauti AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS SEVENS CONNECTION 2010 austSchRugbyNews_march_10.indd 8 25/3/10 1:46:10 PM
Australian Schools Rugby News October 2009