After flopping at the Tokyo Olympics, Australia’s sevens program is having a shakeup.
Rugby Australia announced today that the men’s squad would work “collaboratively” with the Super Rugby clubs, with players set to move back and forth more frequently between the abbreviated and traditional versions of the game.
Darby Lancaster will be a test case for the new strategy, splitting his time between the Waratahs and sevens programs.
Watch the Wales vs Australia rugby clash on Stan Sport – the home of the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks spring tours. Start your seven day free trial here!
“The new collaborative approach between our sevens programs and the Super Rugby clubs will ensure there are opportunities for all of our elite development players to get game time at an international level, benefiting both formats of our game,” RA director of rugby Scott Johnson said.
RA underwent a review of its sevens programs after the women finished fifth and the men seventh at this year’s Olympics.
The teams are currently coach-less with the incumbents Tim Walsh and John Manenti invited to formally reapply.
READ MORE: Wallabies blown away by ruthless England
There has also been massive turnover among the player ranks.
2016 gold medalists Shannon Parry, Emma Tonegato, Chloe Dalton and Ellia Green have all retired while the men have waved goodbye to Lachie Anderson, Dylan Pietsch, Joe Pincus, Josh Coward, Lewis Holland and Lachlan Miller.
Anderson and Pincus will play for the Rebels next year while Pietsch is on the books of the Waratahs.
“We have been very fortunate to have worked with and enjoyed watching these athletes over the past seven years,” RA chief executive Andy Marinos said.
“These men and women have been some of the true legends of the sevens game and whilst bittersweet, it is befitting that we both acknowledge and thank them for the contributions in saying goodbye.”
The 2021-22 sevens world series kicks off in Dubai on November 26.
The men’s squad will be led by Nick Malouf, Henry Hutchison and Maurice Longbottom while the women have a young squad featuring seven players under the age of 21.
Gold medalists Charlotte Caslick and Sharni Williams are playing on.
“We’ve been building a lot of depth in our program for a number of years now through our pathway programs, so the newly contracted sides very much represent a reset as we turn our attention not only to the world series but also Birmingham in 2022 (Commonwealth Games) and Paris in 2024 (Olympics),” Australian sevens performance manager Scott Bowen said
“We have a total of eight uncapped players across the program, as well as a strong group of younger players on development contracts who are pushing into the main squads.
“While we’ve lost a lot of our players, who joined the program back in 2014 when we centralised, I have every confidence in the new group we have assembled and am looking forward to seeing them write the next chapter.”
2021-22 men’s squad: Henry Hutchison, Nathan Lawson, Maurice Longbottom, Nick Malouf, Henry Paterson, Dietrich Roache, Joshua Turner, Darby Lancaster
2021-22 women’s squad: Rhiannon Byers, Charlotte Caslick, Lily Dick, Dominique Du Toit, Demi Hayes, Madison Ashby, Tia Hinds, Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, Maddison Levi, Teagan Levi, Faith Nathan, Sariah Paki, Cassie Staples, Bienne Terita, Jakiya Whitfeld, Sharni Williams