Two members of Sydney University Women’s Rugby Club have been selected in the 26-strong Australian Wallaroos squad to contest the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup to be played in England next month.
Alex Hargreaves and Ashleigh Hewson have been selected in the squad that will be coached by former Sydney University Football Club frontrower, John Manenti.
Hargreaves is one of five members of the squad who played in the Australian team that won the inaugural World Sevens tournament in Dubai last March.
Australia could become the first nation to unite the Sevens and 15-a-side Rugby World Cup titles but have been handed a tough assignment at the tournament which will run from August 20 to September 5.
The Wallaroos have been drawn in Pool A along with defending champions New Zealand, fellow southern hemisphere heavyweights South Africa and Six Nations champions Wales.
Pool B includes England, USA, Ireland and Kazakhstan, and Pool C includes France, Canada, Scotland and Sweden. The top four on points will progress to semi-finals.
Hargreaves was chuffed to be selected in the squad. “I’m always happy to play for my country,” she said. “In 2009, I was part of the Australian team that won the inaugural women’s Sevens World Cup in Dubai.
“It would be really good if we could also win the women’s Rugby World Cup. Although, we do have New Zealand in our draw, so it will be interesting to see how we go against the number one team in the world.”
Coach Manenti is confident of the Wallaroos’ chances. “At the last World Cup in ’06 we had 10 standout players and the rest were working really hard to catch up,” Manenti said. “This time around we have 30 who could have made the squad and everyone in the squad is capable of starting.”
The 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup will be the sixth time teams from around the globe have battled for the title, although it is only the fourth occasion in which Australia has competed. The Wallaroos finished fifth in 1998 and 2002 and seventh at the 2006 World Cup in Canada, where New Zealand beat England in the decider and France finished third.
The Wallaroos will open their 2010 campaign on Friday, August 20 with a hit-out against Wales at Surrey Sports Park before taking on New Zealand on August 24 and South Africa on August 28. The finals will be staged at Twickenham Stoop in London.