Emma Tonegato in action at Rio 2016

Emma Tonegato in action at Rio 2016. Credit: Rugby Union Players Association - Twitter

The Australian Rugby Sevens Women's team has been named to defend their gold medal at Tokyo 2020, with a strong side of experience and youth.

The Australian Rugby Sevens Women have named their squad named for Tokyo 2020. The Men’s team was also named at the same time.

The women’s team, who will be defending a gold medal, have named a squad that balances youth and experience. After Chloe Dalton’s withdrawal less than 48 hours before the squad was named, there was plenty of attention turned to who would be in the squad.

The women’s side has 205 World Series caps between them, as five gold medalists return from the successful Rio 2016 campaign. Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry have been named co-captains of the side.

The other returning athletes are Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite, and Charlotte Caslick. Caslick has previously been named Women’s Sevens Player of the Year, including after the successful Rio Olympic campaign in 2016.

Williams said that being named for her second Olympics was just as special as the first time around.

“It’s amazing to be here five years after Rio, never did I think I would get an opportunity to represent my country, let alone at a second Olympics,” Williams explained.

Williams also paid tribute to the support networks for the players, in a nod to Dalton’s late withdrawal.

“How we play is a representation of more than just the selected players, we have an entire Aussie 7s family back home who have sacrificed so much to get us here,” Williams said.

“The unknown has been hard to navigate but we now have the Olympics firmly in our sight.”

Coach John Manenti explained that he had selected a side that was balanced with youth and experience, in what was a difficult selection process.

“As coaches, we have selected the best performing squad, and while some decisions were tough, we have selected a team which will put us in the best position to perform,” Manenti said.

“Playing last weekend has been great preparation ahead of Tokyo, game time is always important and it gave us an opportunity to get that.”

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Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team welcomed the athletes to the Australian Olympic Team, paying tribute to the athletes.

“Rugby Sevens debut in 2016 and that historic women’s gold is one of the standout memories of Rio and we are thrilled to have such strong squads named for Tokyo.”

Manenti was cautious, noting that it was a new Olympic campaign, with a new team, and they were taking nothing for granted.

“There is a good combination of youth and experience within the team, but this is a new team and we’ll be looking to write our own Olympic chapter,” Manenti said.

The Australian Rugby Sevens Women have been drawn against USA, China and Japan for the group stage.

Full Women’s Squad

Shannon Parry (c)Rio 2016 (Gold)
Sharni Williams (c)Rio 2016 (Gold)
Emma TonegatoRio 2016 (Gold)
Evania Pelite Rio 2016 (Gold)
Charlotte CaslickRio 2016 (Gold)
Demi HayesDebut
Dominique Du ToitDebut
Sariah PakiDebut
Faith NathanDebut
Madison AshbyDebut
Maddison LeviDebut
Tia HindsDebut

The Rugby Sevens Women’s competition will take place from 29-31 July at the Tokyo Olympics.

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