The Aon University Sevens Series will expand to a ten-team competition in 2018 following on from the success of the inaugural year of the tournament with the announcement that the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney will join this year’s competition.
Sydney and Melbourne will be joining the established pack of Bond University, Griffith University, University of New England, Macquarie University, University of Canberra, University of Adelaide, University of Tasmania and 2017 Champions the University of Queensland.
A first of its kind, the Aon University Sevens Series is Australia’s only all-University competition and intertwines students with elite Rugby players with each squad featuring students studying at the Universities.
Rugby Victoria General Manager Chris Evans believes this competition will be an integral part of the growing Female 7s pathway here in Victoria.
"Rugby Victoria is thrilled to have partnered with Melbourne University and Melbourne University Rugby Club," Chris Evans said.
"The inclusion of the Melbourne University team in to the 2018 Aon University 7s has created a pathway for aspiring Victorian female 7s players.
"In 2018 Rugby Victoria launched three new girls competitions for U11s-U17s (Touch 7s and 7s).
"Today’s announcement will ensure there is an opportunity for female athlete to progress through our Victorian Pathway, participate in the University 7s competition and ultimately become Australian Women’s 7s players."
Melbourne University Rugby General Manager Jason Jones sees this a great opportunity to build on the booming 7s format.
“It's really exciting for not only The University of Melbourne but Victoria," said Melbourne University Rugby Club General Manager Jason Jones.
“It's very professionally run, a great pathway for players to come through.
"Elite athletes at our university now who have a pathway to change sports and give it a crack and come across, which is I think very exciting for us."
Rugby Australia General Manager High Performance, Ben Whitaker said: “After such a successful inaugural year of the Aon Uni Sevens Series we saw an immediate opportunity to expand the competition and have two very strong new additions in the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne for 2018.
“The outcome is that we will have a stronger competition with more opportunities for players to compete across the ten teams, which has benefits for the competition as well as for our national women’s Sevens program.
“With the inclusion of Melbourne there is now an Aon University Sevens presence in Brisbane, Gold Coast, regional Queensland, Sydney, regional NSW, Canberra, Melbourne, Tasmania and Adelaide.”
Additionally, the University of Western Australia has been confirmed as the third new University to join the series in 2019.
UniSport Australia CEO Don Knapp welcomed the announcement of the two latest universities to join the Aon Women’s University Sevens Series.
“The inaugural year of the Series confirmed there is significant appetite for national league university competitions,” Mr Knapp said.
“The Series is part of a nationwide focus on creating elite sporting pathways for female student-athletes.”
“Welcoming The University of Sydney and The University of Melbourne to the Series not only increases the competition and stakes on offer, but enables even more student-athletes to align their dual career education and sport pathways.”
"This collaborative initiative between UniSport Australia, competing universities, and Rugby Australia provides elite student-athletes with an unprecedented pathway to the Olympic and Commonwealth Games podia, while at the same time preparing them for a career beyond sport.”
The Aon University Sevens will kick off later in the year with the 2018 draw to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
If you are interested in participating in the 2018 Aon Uni 7s, please contact Jason Jones, General Manager, Melbourne University Rugby -