World Series Triumph For Australia In Madrid

World Series Triumph For Australia In Madrid 1920 1280 ISPS Handa

Australia will head to the Paris Olympics next month as gold medal favourites with the hottest weapon in women’s rugby sevens after a landmark triumph in Madrid. 

The Aussies were crowned HSBC SVNS champions for the season after beating France 26-7 in the grand final on June 2. 

The deeper tale was eliminating arch rivals New Zealand 21-19 with a brilliant semi-final comeback and so many players rising to fill the gaps left by injured stars. 

Blonde-haired flyer Maddison Levi strode over for a hat-trick of tries in a tick over four minutes in the second half to change a final which had been locked at 7-all at half-time. 

The surge of scoring lifted her incredible tally for the season to 69 tries, including 13 of the 21 tries that the Australians scored in the Madrid tournament. 

All her skills were on display in the final. The pace to dash over from 50m out was there when taking a switch pass from scheming skipper Charlotte Caslick for her first. 

She finished a sweeping team attack for the second and she fended off a French defender when taking her on the outside for the third. 

As ever, 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallist Caslick was at the heart of the Ausgtralian performance. She won turnover penalties, she tackled, she organised and her silky passes kept the trademark flow in the attack. 

The Australians were underdogs in Madrid even considering their early season titles in Dubai and Cape Town because the Kiwis had their measure three times in later tournaments. 

Australian captain Charlotte Caslick (left) and Teagan Levi celebrate their success in Madrid. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

On top of that, a season-ending knee injury to playmaker Madi Ashby had taken a key figure out of play to compound the absence of Sharni Smale, Demi Hayes, Lily Dick and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea. 

Without so many established players, the likes of Bella Nasser have really stood up in this series. 

Wing flyer Faith Nathan added more to her game, Tia Hinds kicked a wonderful, angled conversion to sink NZ after the bell in the semi-final, Sariah Paki elevated her form, Teagan Levi stepped up with greater prominence in the midfield and team skills were sharpened. 

Winning kick-offs, smart shoves to turnover ball in the three-person scrums, incisive cameos from the bench from Dom du Toit and Co, the return of Bienne Terita, excellent poise and fine tackling all contributed. 

As ever, class rose at the big moments. It was Caslick who shed a tackler, darted and fed the final pass to Maddison Levi for the final try against NZ. 

Team sponsors ISPS HANDA have been a major element behind the preparation so that the women will head to the Olympics as one of Australia’s best team gold medal chances and one of the most popular. 

The Australians will get a huge injection of belief and confidence from this Madrid result but nothing is guaranteed in Paris. 

The Kiwis, the improving French, the physical Canadians and Americans…there are challenges aplenty en route to the medal dias when a few returning stars will add to the cause.