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Countdown to Hong Kong SVNS: Hoops in, Lefau-Fakosilea still out, Terita back...and hopefully no more red cards

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2nd April, 2024

Round six of the World Rugby SVNS Series starts on Friday. The Hong Kong Sevens – the original home of rugby sevens – and just a quick refresher, this year is different.

It’s an Olympic year. The biggest of the biggest tournaments. All rugby nations’ eyes have been on this for the last couple of years.

Secondly, the World SVNS Series has a completely new and different format.

Both men and women compete in seven tournaments leading to the grand final in Madrid.

The Madrid winner takes out the overall title. Previously the team that accumulated the most points during the season, first past the post, won the title, just like the EPL.

At the end of the seventh tournament in Singapore, the top eight of the 12 teams compete in Madrid.

So whether you finish first or eighth at the end of seven tournaments you are in with an opportunity to take out the overall title – crowned World SVSNS Series champions.


All eight teams that qualify for Madrid, qualify for the 2025 SVNS Series.

At the same time, while the top eight are competing for the overall title, the bottom four teams are required to compete with the top four from the Challenger Series, to qualify for the SVNS Series 2025.

Both Australian teams are currently in the top eight, the men are in fifth and women in first place.

Australian Sevens – Men

For both the serious and casual rugby sevens fan all eyes will be on Michael Hooper making his debut. How will he go?

The Rugby Australia and World Rugby social media teams have been highlighting his debut with an array of posts. In reality, we should temper our expectations, he is not going to deliver an Antoine DuPont performance.

Hong Kong is going to be a tough tournament after having a less-than-ideal performance in Los Angeles, finishing seventh. There is no easing into the tournament, first Pool game is Fiji, then LA winners France and lastly Canada.


In positive news Maurice Longbottom is back, a star of the men’s team. He provides the direction and spark. He also delivers the occasional angry ant spray to his teammates when needed.

Coach John Manenti seems to be pretty close to knowing his best squad. There are eight players which will be their sixth consecutive tournament playing together.

Add to those eight, there are compulsory selections Longbottom, Henry Paterson and Henry Hutchinson who did miss a couple of tournaments with injury. It is a pretty settled squad.

Aussie men’s Sevens coach John Manenti with Michael Hooper. (Photo by Nicholas Ward/ Rugby Australia)

Australian Sevens – Women

The women had a great start to the World Rugby SVNS Series winning in Dubai and Cape Town, but have dropped off a little.

Now the Kiwis have got the momentum, winning the last two tournaments in Vancouver and Los Angeles.


The Australian women’s pool is Fiji, Ireland and South Africa. They should top the Pool.

While Ireland is usually highly competitive against Australia they could be missing a couple of their stalwart superstars. Fiji is usually tough as that brings physicality.

If they get away early they are hard to peg back. As for South Africa, they are on the up but Australia should have too much for them.

It is probably no coincidence their drop-off aligns with the women receiving a number of red cards plus getting hit with some injuries.

On the injury front, Demi Hayes is out with an ACL, Alysia Lefau-Fakosilea is out with a shoulder injury and Bienne Terita missed a couple of tournaments with an ankle injury. Fortunately, Terita is back in for Hong Kong.

Now missing from this tournament is Dom Du Toit who has an ankle injury.

A player who deserves a shout-out is Tia Hinds. She has been in and around the squad since she debuted as an 18-year-old at the last Olympics.


She was not in the team for the first three tournaments. She returned for Vancouver and LA, and in cliché terms she has made every post a winner. She is also a kicker, which is pretty handy with Du Toit out. When Madison Ashby was out with the red card she combined very well with Charlotte Caslick.

Coach Tim Walsh is building some depth having selected four new players to make their debut so far this season. In his first season back with the women, the triple crown year, he selected just one new player Jesse Southwell who played three tournaments before she returned to rugby league.

In the second year, Bella Nasser debuted and has been a lock ever since. She has been a real find with her size, power, speed and skills.

This year has seen debuts for Kaitlin Shave, Heidi Dennis, Sidney Taylor and now in Hong Kong Bridget Clark.

For the women it is either themselves or Kiwis to take out the Hong Kong title, with the Kiwis being the defending title holders.

All games are broadcast on Stan.


Australian Women
Friday 5 April 2024
* 3.25 PM AEDT v Fiji
* 6.35PM AEDT v Ireland

Saturday 6 April 2024
* 2.25 PM AEDT v South Africa

Australian Men
Friday 5 April 2024
* 8.30 PM AEDT v Fiji
* 11.56 PM AEDT v France

Saturday 6 April 2024
* 4.20 PM AEDT v Canada

Australia Women’s Sevens team for Hong Kong SVNS:
2. Sharni Smale
3. Faith Nathan
5. Teagan Levi
6. Madison Ashby
7. Charlotte Caslick
8. Kaitlin Shave
9. Tia Hinds
10. Bella Nasser
12. Maddison Levi
13. Heidi Dennis
14. Bridget Clark
22. Bienne Terita
65. Sariah Paki

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Australia Men’s Sevens team for Hong Kong SVNS:

1. Henry Hutchison
2. Ben Dowling
3. Henry Palmer
4. Dietrich Roache
6. Henry Paterson
9. Matt Gonzalez
10. Nick Malouf
11. Maurice Longbottom
12. Nathan Lawson
14. James Turner
25. Hayden Sargeant
77. Michael Hooper
87. Michael Icely