Event clash prompts women's rugby review

Murray Wenzel
Walleroos and Sevens star Shannon Parry plays a key role in Australia handling a daunting 2021

Equipping players to feature in both the Tokyo Olympics and World Cup next year will be discussed as part of a Rugby Australia women's high-performance review launched on Wednesday.

The postponed Games will now take place in July and August next year, with the World Cup in New Zealand from September 18.

In 2017, Sevens trio Mahalia Murphy, Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams all represented the Wallaroos in the World Cup.

Parry and Williams will be in the frame for both again next year, while the likes of Rio gold medal-winning teammates Ellia Green, Emma Tonegato, Alicia Lucas and Charlotte Caslick are all untested but exciting propositions in the traditional format.

Parry and Tonegato will be part of the panel that chart a path through 2021, while RA's head of women's rugby Jilly Collins is open to the idea of players doubling up in a "golden year" she says can "supercharge" women's rugby in Australia.

Scheduling will be central to discussions, with both this year's Wallaroos Tests and the remainder of the sevens world series up in the air after the coronavirus pandemic cut short this year's Super W season.

This year's university-based domestic rugby sevens tournament has been cancelled, while it is likely the national sevens programs for both men and women will be decentralised as part of the cash-strapped RA's restructure.

The university sevens program could be contested earlier next year with the Super W pushed back to better prepare players for their respective marquee events.

Rugby Australia have made clear the women's programs won't be forgotten as they navigate administrative change and attempt to secure a broadcast partner beyond this year.

"We need to consider how best to work within the constraints we have whilst delivering standards that are commensurate with high performance sport," Collins said.

"This includes working with stakeholders to offset costs and bring in new revenue."