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‘It’s like Formula One’: Walsh makes case as future of sevens placed under RA microscope

After the Tokyo Olympics ‘united the world like only sport can’, Australian men’s sevens coach Tim Walsh has outlined why the program should survive a Rugby Australia review.

Rugby Australia’s high-performance unit, along with board members Phil Waugh and Daniel Herbert, are undertaking a review of the Australian sevens program in the wake of a disappointing Olympic campaign, where the 2016 Olympic champion women’s team and the men’s side were knocked out of the quarter-finals.

Samu Kerevi was part of Australia’s average showing in Tokyo.

Samu Kerevi was part of Australia’s average showing in Tokyo.Credit:Getty

The review panel will soon make a recommendation as to what shape the program should take ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games and the Paris Olympics in 2024, with one of the options being to scale the programs back from full-time programs.

Before COVID-19 devastated Rugby Australia’s finances, the sevens program was considered an essential part of rugby’s future in Australia.

While that is still the case for the women’s game – which is widely considered the flagship program of Australian women’s rugby – the same can’t be said for the men’s program after a seventh placed finish in Tokyo, and a boozy plane ride home that saw the entire team reprimanded.

Walsh, who declined to comment on the plane behavioural issue, pointed to the cut-through new Olympics sports skateboarding, surfing and BMX were afforded through Australian success stories and the bronze medal triumph of the Boomers as proof of the impact sevens could have if given another cycle to grow.

“The Olympics answers that question. It was the most anticipated Olympics in history, it united the world like only sport can,” Walsh said when asked about the future viability of the program.

“It’s the biggest sporting event in the world. You only have to look at the magnitude of which other sports have been able to market themselves out of this. Aussies love their sport and they love the Olympics.

“It’s a real opportunity for sports to be on the world stage and to deliver what they’re all about. Both as Aussies but also, as rugby. There is a huge importance and opportunity for rugby sevens.”

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