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Meet the 'ridiculous' sevens sister act who can change Aussie rugby by winning gold and a World Cup

22nd November, 2023
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22nd November, 2023
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In a sign of the changing times in women’s rugby, sisters Maddison and Teagan Levi are viewing not just gold at next year’s Olympics in Paris but a medal a year later at the 2025 Rugby World Cup.

In a coup for Rugby Australia, the star sister act turned down interest from rival codes to re-sign in a massive boost for the game as Tim Walsh unveiled his squad in the lead-up to next year’s Olympics.

At a time when Australian rugby followers needed some cause for hope, news that the sisters will stay in the game until at least 2026 won’t just warm the hearts of fans but have the potential to transform the game.

Maddison Levi, 21, was a World Rugby sevens rookie of the year before being a World Rugby sevens player of the year nominee last season after scoring a record 57 five-pointers.

She also runs at 9.18 metres per second, or 33km/h. Good like fellas.

Younger sister Teagan, 20, is known as a “pit bull” by teammates for her ability on both sides of the ball, as well as with it as her feet given she’s the team’s kick restarter.

“When I go out on the field, I just turn into some crazy person,” she said.

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“Wherever the ball is, I want to be there and if someone has a ball in front of me, I just want to nail them.

“That’s my nickname and I actually love it. It’s pretty cool to be called ‘Pity’ all the time and just to be known for that out in the field is really exciting.”

Maddison Levi (L) and Teagan Levi have re-signed with Rugby Australia through until 2026. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

What they also are is winners, with the duo playing a key role in Australia’s golden year over the past season where the team won gold at the Commonwealth Games, World Cup and World Series.

“It’s pretty ridiculous really,” said Olympic gold medal-winning coach Tim Walsh when asked how far the duo could go.

“There’s two kinds of players or athletes: there’s winners and losers, and these two are winners.”

World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer famously said you need five world-class players to win a Webb Ellis Cup.

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In sevens, Walsh believes you might in fact need more.

“[It’s an] interesting question because everything in sevens is magnified, so you could argue that you’ve got to have six or seven within 10,” he said.

Fortunately, he has two up his sleeve in the Levis.

It’s no surprise that the pair were firmly in the sights of the NRLW and AFLW, but the deadly blonde-haired backs said the opportunity to travel and play on the international stage meant nothing else could compare.

“The NRL was definitely a big draw card and AFL, having played a season and Teags being drafted but not being able to actually debut, they play on your mind but once we made the transition to sevens, I guess you can’t put a price on travel,” Maddison Levi said.

“We’re so young, we get to compete at the highest level for our country and I think nothing in the female sport that we were looking at compares to actually being on par with that level.”

Teagan added: “[It was] definitely a temptation, but you can’t beat traveling around the world.

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Extraordinarily, Maddison Levi didn’t even make a rep team until her final year of being a teenager.

Now, she’s the deadliest strike weapon in world rugby and credits her tough road to the top as her daily inspiration.

“I probably cracked my first rep team in 2019 for AFL and rugby,” she said.

“I guess having Teagan step up and crack the teams before me and take my position didn’t really help. But I say to every young athlete that I probably wouldn’t be the athlete I am today if I had walked straight through in every team, so it actually shaped the person I am today.”

Teagan Levi (L) Australia coach Tim Walsh and Maddison Levi during a media opportunity at Rugby Australia HQ on November 22, 2023 in Sydney. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

While the Levis have their eyes firmly on the road to Paris, a whirlwind 72 hours in the French capital to coincide with the World Cup final and World Rugby Awards only reinforced Maddison’s appeal in the wider game.

“I just sat there and took it all in because I hadn’t been to a World Cup game, let alone a World Cup final in Paris and the atmosphere was just insane,” she said.

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“You just can’t hear yourself. I came back to all the girls and said, ‘Listen, I want to be in that gold medal match because the atmosphere is so insane.’”

Once upon a time, the sevens and 15s programs rarely crossed paths too.

But the professionalisation of women’s XVs, as well as the fact Australia will host the women’s World Cup in 2029, has shifted the mindset of those thinking about playing both variations of the game.

“It’s definitely on the cards,” Maddison Levi said.

“The main focus for us at the moment is sevens and to bring home that Olympic gold, but to be a dual international is definitely something I’ve always dreamed about and having Teags by my side.

“Looking at the games this year and the women’s XVs growth is developing and each year is going to get bigger and bigger and the World Cup the year after the Olympics is definitely in sight for us.

“We won’t rule out anything too soon and to have that Rugby Australia contract through until 2026 will help us decide and possibly crossover.”

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If they do, the Wallaroos and rugby will only benefit because the pair aren’t just gifted on the field, they want to change the perception of the game off it too.

“We’ve already seen a shift from when the girls won in Reo to when we won the Comm Games for not only younger girls but younger males actually looking up and wanting to play women’s sevens,” Maddison Levi said.

“Hopefully we can be at the forefront of that charge and lead the way.”

AUSTRALIA WOMEN’S SEVENS SQUAD – 2023/24 SEASON

Lily Dick, Sharni Smale, Faith Nathan, Dominique Du Toit, Teagan Levi, Madison Ashby, Charlotte Caslick (c),
Kaitlin Shave, Tia Hinds, Bella Nasser, Demi Hayes, Maddison Levi, Heidi Dennis, Bienne Terita, Sidney Taylor, Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, Sariah Paki

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