Australia Qualfies for Womens World Cup
Saturday Aug 8, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby Other International News
Australia booked their place at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 after scoring 15 tries in an emphatic 87-0 defeat of Samoa in their one-off Oceania play-off at Apia Park on Friday.
Both sides had played in the last edition of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Canada back in 2006, but only one of them would join defending champions New Zealand as Oceania’s representatives in England next year.
Fielding a number of players who helped Australia claim the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens crown in Dubai this year, the Wallaroos signaled their intentions to claim that place with Ruan Sims crossing for the first try in the third minute.
Kristy Giteau, the older sister of Wallaby star Matt, then marked her debut with Australia’s second try with her fellow wing Nicole Beck also touching down before the 20-minute mark in the hot and humid conditions in the Samoan capital.
Centre Simms and Beck – both of whom were part of that successful Sevens side in Dubai – grabbed a second try in the first half with flanker Rebecca Trethowan, full back Tricia Brown and debutant Cobie Morgan also crossing as the Wallaroos went in leading 46-0.
The Wallaroos showed no sign of letting up after the break with second row Kate Porter, a member of the Australian Army, crossed within minutes of the restart to bring up the half century for her side.
Debby Hodgkinson was the next to get her name on the scoresheet, and after the game was given her IRB Women’s Personality of the Year award.
Within minutes Trethowan scored her second try of the afternoon before Wallaroos coach John Manenti began to ring the changes. Chris Ross increased the advantage in the 67th minute with replacements Sharni Williams and Seei Sau also getting on the scoreboard.
The final try at Apia Park was scored at the death by prop Kylie Pennell as the Wallaroos secured their Women’s Rugby World Cup place with an impressive performance, one that surprised their captain Cheryl Soon.
“I didn’t expect that. I am very honored and very proud of the girls and their performance they put on,” admitted Soon. “I asked several things of them and they went out there and did it. We executed our game plan which resulted in a huge win for us.”
Soon and Hodgkinson were both quick to pay tribute to their late Sevens coach Shawn Mackay, who had guided Australia’s women to a first ever win over New Zealand in last year’s Oceania qualifier for RWC Sevens 2009 at the same venue.
“Shawn Mackay made history with us, helping us beat New Zealand set the belief that we can do anything,” Soon said of Mackay, who passed away in a South Africa hospital days after suffering serious injuries when hit by a car while on Super 14 duty with the Brumbies in April. “He would be proud now, watching down on us.”
“Shawn Mackay started a culture in our team, it started right here in Samoa and we can go on with it.,” added Hodgkinson.
Australia’s qualification means there is only place left in the 12-team field for the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 in England next August and September. This will be filled by the winner of the Asian Women’s Championship later this year.
New Zealand, runners up England and bronze medallists France qualified from the 2006 tournament and were joined by South Africa, Canada and USA, who all gained automatic passage. They have now been joined by Wales, Ireland, Sweden, Scotland and Australia.
The Wallaroos were quick to point out that they will not be content just to make up the numbers at the World Cup in West London.
“Now after having such a solid performance, I think it is realistic that we’re not just going to the World Cup, we’re going and we are going to be really competitive – if not in the top two,” said Giteau. “I think it is going to be a really awesome experience and something that we’re all looking forward to.”
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