The re-signing of sisters Maddison and Teagan Levi is a beacon for the gold medal aspirations of every emerging women’s rugby sevens player in Australia.
Securing their commitment to Australia’s Sevens program takes them two years beyond the 2024 Paris Olympics until at least the 2025-26 season.
Australia’s champion women’s sevens team wear the ISPS HANDA logo on the front of their jersey in recognition of the International Sports Promotion Society becoming principal partner in October, 2022. On no one was it more noticeable than Maddison as she ran in a series-record 57 tries during the 2022-23 World Rugby Sevens season.
Signing Maddi, 21, and Teagan, 20, is a vital step towards the Olympics and beyond. As good as they are at rugby, they also have pedigree in another sport, AFLW. It’s a winning tussle for young talent that shows Australia’s full-time women’s rugby sevens program is elite and full of the mesmerising goals to keep young stars highly motivated.
“There’s no place we’d rather be,” Maddi said for both of them in Sydney on Wednesday.
“The standards and expectations within the group are as good as it gets. We have experienced so much over the past two seasons – travelling the world with this group, winning major tournaments – that it just made it such an easy decision to continue on with the squad beyond the Olympics next year. There is so much to look forward to for this program and I will get to do it with my sister.”
Sharing the gold medal at the Oceania Sevens Championships in Brisbane in November highlighted both Maddi’s try-power but also how much Teagan has improved. Maddi is pictured above sharing a photo moment with a young fan at Ballymore during the tournament. Teagan now takes a more prominent ball-playing role in the centre of the field, there’s venom to her tackling, there’s regular interplay with her sister and she’s added a skill in short supply.
The sevens unit hasn’t had an elite goalkicker since 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist Chloe Dalton. Teagan has turned herself into the go-to kicker through hard work and practice as she emphasised with several angled conversions at the Oceania Championships.
“I’ll put my hand up. Initially, I didn’t think Teagan was a kicker and bypassed her in considering who we might develop into our No.1 option,” Australian Women’s Sevens coach Tim Walsh said.
“She has turned herself into a top goalkicker which is a really valuable ability for our team. It’s the same effort she has put into her improvement over the past 12 months with her toughness, resilience and desire to be better.
“Maddi has become one of the best players in the world and someone that all opposition teams fear.”
Maddi and Teagan were key figures in the team’s “Triple Crown” year of 2022 when Australia struck gold at the Commonwealth Games, the World Series and the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Sport never stands still and New Zealand headed the World Series standings when the most recent season concluded earlier this year.
The Australians are eager to progress again and have named their 2023-24 HSBC SVNS squad to prepare for the Olympics. The hurt of failing to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 is a deep-seated motivator but 2022’s golden springboard is what Walsh finds more relevance in.
“There’s a reason the windscreen looking ahead is bigger than the rear vision mirror. What was achieved in 2022 created a lot of confidence for what’s to come,” Walsh said.
“We want to be getting satisfaction and enjoyment from our hard work and improvements together all the way to the Olympics.”
Gains are being made everywhere. The powerful Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea is pushing her game and is now capable of playing more minutes. Her bumping run and two touches contributed to one of the best set-play tries of the Oceania Championships. Bienne Terita adds power as well as speed on the edge. Madi Ashby’s skills package suggests she can be a World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year contender in years to come. The peerless Charlotte Caslick just plays at that level every tournament.
Australia’s men’s and women’s sevens teams open their SVNS series campaigns in Dubai before stops in Cape Town, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Madrid.
AUSTRALIA WOMEN’S SEVENS SQUAD – 2023/24 SEASON
1. Lily Dick
2. Sharni Smale
3. Faith Nathan
4. Dominique Du Toit
5. Teagan Levi
6. Madison Ashby
7. Charlotte Caslick ©
8. Kaitlin Shave
9. Tia Hinds
10. Bella Nasser
11. Demi Hayes
12. Maddison Levi
13. Heidi Dennis
22. Bienne Terita
44. Sidney Taylor
55. Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea
65. Sariah Paki