Sydney University Football Club (SUFC) member Matthew Hood made his World Rugby Sevens Series debut in the opening round of the 2017-18 series played in Dubai last weekend.
Also in the Australian squad for the Dubai tournament was SUFC teammate Ed Jenkins, Australia’s most capped Sevens player.
England put paid to Australia’s chances of making the semi-finals in Dubai, with a 26-19 win in the final round match. The Australians then downed Samoa 22-17 in the play-off for fifth place.
South Africa defended their 2016 Dubai Sevens title with a 24-12 win over New Zealand.
“The positive side is that we finished with two wins but the disappointing side is that we came here wanting to be in the semi-finals and we didn’t achieve that,” Australia coach Andy Friend said.
“We got to this point last year and then went to Cape Town and went very poor, so we have got to take this fifth spot and go into Cape Town and target a semi-final there.
“We are seconds away from being in finals but we have to learn how to play those championship minutes and take those opportunities when they are there. That’s where we have to be better and that’s our target next weekend.”
The next round of the World Sevens Series is in Cape Town this Saturday and Sunday, while Sydney will host the third leg from January 26-28.
The series then moves to Hamilton, New Zealand, on February 3 and 4, Las Vegas from March 2-4, Vancouver on March 10-11, Hong Kong from April 6-8, culminating in Singapore on April 28-29.
Hood played in the Australian squad that won all eight matches at the Mackay Sevens tournament in August. He then played at the Oktoberfest Sevens in Munich in September, the Oceania Sevens tournament in early November, and the Australian Universities Seven team contesting the Australian Universities team at the National Sevens Championship in Adelaide prior to departing for Dubai.
Meanwhile, eight SUFC students have been named in the NSW Gen Blue Under 20s squad. Current players Josh Kemeny, Rory Suttor, Tom Osborne and Will Terry have beenjoined by new SUFC recruits, Darcy Breen, Ciaran Loh, Eddie Poolman andTom Woodcock.
The squad will train through to Christmas before coach Pat McCutcheon, a former Australian Sevens and Waratah representative and SUFC First Grader, selects a final playing squad to contest the 2018 National Championships.