Sevens trio one step closer to Rio

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Sydney University Football Club members Pat McCutcheon, Greg Jeloudev and Ed Jenkins moved a step closer to competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games when the Australian Men’s Sevens side won the Central Coast Sevens tournament at the weekend.

Played at the Wyong Rugby League Club grounds and sponsored by the University of Newcastle, the CC7s is Australia’s premier sevens festival outside the IRB World Series and, as such, attracted world-class teams from New Zealand, Fiji and the United States.

It was the final opportunity for selected Australian players to press their case for national selection ahead of November’s Olympic Regional Qualifier in Auckland.

Jenkins didn’t play in the CC7s, but is also in Games contention as a member of the overall Australian Sevens squad.

The Australian Thunderbolts accounted for Redrock (Fiji) 36-12, Germany 38-0 and Rangatuau (New Zealand) 33-21 in their pool matches at Wyong before defeating Yamacia (Fiji) 12-7 in the quarter-final, Wellington (New Zealand) 33-7) in their semi-final, and Tabadamu (Fiji) in the final.

Henry Hutchison led the way with a man-of-the-match display in the final, while Tom Cusack was a standout in the forwards.

As Thunderbolts coach Tim Walsh said, the win kept the Australian Men’s Sevens preparation for the Rio 2016 Regional Olympic Qualifier in Auckland next month firmly on track.

“To have this level of competition on our doorstep is invaluable,” he said. “It is a world-class competition and exactly what we needed leading into the 2016 Olympic Oceania Tournament next month. Our preparations are going to plan and we’re in a good spot.”

Jenkins is the most-capped Australian Men’s Sevens player of all time having competed in two Rugby World Cup Sevens campaigns and won a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

A member of Australia’s Cup winning sides in London (2010) and Tokyo (2012), Jenkins missed most of the 2012-13 season with injury, but returned in 2014 as Australian captain and led the Thunderbolts to a bronze medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Former Australian Schoolboy and Under 20 representative, Jeloudev also collected a bronze medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

McCutcheon won a silver medal with the Australian Sevens team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. He was appointed as captain of the Australian Sevens team for the 2009-10 IRB Series after touring Hong Kong and Europe with the Wallabies at the end of 2010 season.