Lionesses ready to kick off Aon Uni 7s campaign

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On the eve of Round 1 of the 2021 Aon University 7s Series, Sydney University Football Club (SUFC) has confirmed which Lionesses will be taking the field at Woollahra Oval.

This weekend marks the first of four regional rounds to be played out in both Queensland and New South Wales across March and April this year. The nine teams involved will be competing for a pole position to qualify for the two final National tournaments in May – a position SUFC has their sights firmly set on.

The Lionesses go into the new-look tournament hungry for victory after a cancelled 2020 series due to COVID-19, and having to settle for third place overall in the 2019 series.

Aon’s Chief Executive Officer, James Baum, commented on the excitement building amongst fans of the 7s format, as they look forward to welcoming back the elite women’s competition tomorrow.

“After a tumultuous year, we are very excited to see the competition return in 2021,” he said.

“The Aon Uni 7s Series is part of our ongoing commitment to support diversity and inclusion both on and off the rugby field and provide pathway opportunities for both women and younger girls to develop and nurture their passion for rugby and learn valuable life skills.”

Luckily for SUFC, players with a passion for rugby aren’t a rare commodity.

It’s a shared eagerness to be better, which is perhaps what has cemented their title as the “club to beat” in both the men’s and women’s comps alike.

One player leading the pride in passion and commitment is Aon Uni 7s skipper, Piper Duck.

The 20-year-old rising star developed her enviable skills through SUFC’s junior pathway program as part of their Red Cubs Academy while studying at Barker College.

When asked what she was most looking forward to about captaining the Lionesses, the now Wallaroos and emerging 7s squad member expressed her eagerness for the young team to gain from the experience of playing against this talent level.

“I am looking forward to developing further skills throughout the season but also the development of the team as individuals begin to grow confidence in their ability and the skill of the team. I have great belief in our strength as a unit,” she said. Duck is in good company, supported by Freya Berries as vice-captain.

The 24-woman squad locked in for the 2021 competition also features members of Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness’ Elite Athlete Program (EAP); Courtney Schultz, Bridget Clarke and Liv O’Donnell.

All reasonably new to the world of 7s, the EAP young guns are looking forward to showcasing their talent alongside some of the country’s best players.

“I’m most looking forward to playing both with and against Australian representatives,” Clarke said.

“Facing world-class players will be a challenge, but will also provide insight into the work ethic and skill of top-level athletes.”

It’s an opportunity few 18-year-olds can say they’ve had, playing both against and alongside the likes of Australian 7s golden girls Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Vani Pelite and Charlotte Caslick. The new format in 2021 has allowed national players to get much-needed game time in preparation for the Olympics later this year.

In terms of the Sydney Uni team’s preparations, the consensus was clear: “training has been tough.

“The girls have put in a lot of hard work and have plenty of km’s in the legs. We’re a new group, but we’ve come together really well, so I’m excited to see how that plays out on the field,” said Shultz – a former Sydney University Athletics Club talent who made the switch from track to paddock in 2019.

“Despite the unfavourable weather, the coaches have managed to get the squad together, making use of Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness’ awesome facilities in an effort to keep up our skills and team cohesion in preparation for round 1 of the Aon series,”, added O’Donnell.

Pinned as one to watch, the team can thank O’Donnell’s residential address for sparking interest in playing for the Club.

“I’m residing at St Andrews College at Sydney University and saw the women’s club training on campus and so decided to give it a try,” she said.

“I began with XV’s playing in the Jack Scott Cup but was also given the opportunity to play in a couple Shute Shield 7’s comps and have loved playing 7’s ever since.”

Head Coach Manny Posadas this morning confirmed the team that will kick off Sydney University’s Aon Uni 7s campaign:

1. Grace Hamilton
2. Bridget Clark
3. Piper Duck (C)
4. Isla Norman-Bell
5. Faitala Moleka
6. Lori Cramer
7. Claudia Nielson
8. Kieran Berry
9. Margot Vella
10. Freya Clayhills (VC)
11. Jade Sheridan
12. Liv O’Donnell
13. Madeleine Robinson

Game times available here.

Congratulations to the entire squad, coaching and support staff, we’re right behind you!

Be sure to follow our coverage of the University of Sydney’s performance at the 2021 Aon University Sevens Series via our social platforms. Games will also be available to stream live via