Australia v Japan

Amazing Grace leads Wallaroos into new era

Australia captain Grace Hamilton hopes the upcoming home-and-away series will see the Wallaroos close the gap on rivals New Zealand.

They say in sport that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. In women’s rugby, that means getting the better of the mighty Black Ferns.

Australia’s Wallaroos have tried and failed on 17 occasions to date but, as they approach a home-and-away series against the world champions for the Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy, they are arguably in a better place than ever before to bring that winless run to an end.

Last month’s 2-0 series win over Japan by an aggregate score of 76-28 has given them confidence as well as time to gel ahead of the first leg of the double header at the Optus Stadium in Perth on Saturday.

“We've spent time together, which doesn’t usually happen for 10 months of the year, and we’ve been able to learn our roles within the team and get the cohesion we need to be really strong,” said Grace Hamilton, Australia's talisman and captain.

“For us, this is the best preparation we've ever had, and I can't wait to get out there on Saturday.”

Benchmark team

In 2018, the Wallaroos were beaten 31-11 in Sydney before losing 45-17 in the return match at Eden Park. And dynamic back-row Hamilton is aware of the challenge confronting them.

“They are the best team in the world and still the benchmark for everyone else,” she stated.

“Rugby is in their blood; they play from when they are in kindergarten. But we’ve created something really special and this is a team that I have full faith in. What better way to test ourselves?

“I think we’re on our way to closing the gap and I can’t want to see how we do.”

Identifying the areas where she thinks Australia will have to improve, Hamilton highlights the breakdown, support play and discipline.

“Our breakdown and support play needs to be better. They are a very good team at the breakdown and will steal lots of ball if they can, so we need to clear our ball and keep the forward momentum. We have got to keep our heads up and keep grinding away.”

Key influencer

For Australia to beat the odds and create another piece of history after winning their first tests on home soil last month, it’s likely Hamilton will have to produce another outstanding display. Voted Player of the Match in both tests against Japan, the 27-year-old is in the form of her life.

“I always go into every game trying to influence things as best as I can and that’s paid off in the last two matches. I go into every match with the same mindset – the goal is to win, obviously, but also to play the best that I can for my team-mates,” she says modestly.

Hamilton grew up on a farm in the country and only started playing the game in 2016 while studying in the United States.

“I played in the backline in America, I was playing inside-centre. But I got a bit bored out in the backs and I made the transition to the forwards when I came back; I think I am more suited to playing there.

“The whole America experience was great, the facilities and the fields we’d play on were great. Sometimes we’d travel 12 hours to play a game which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the university system.”

Future hopes

Last year's Sydney test between New Zealand and Australia was played in front of 28,846 people at its peak. Not that Hamilton noticed. “I don’t hear the crowd; I have tunnel vision when I’m playing.”

While Saturday’s crowd won’t touch those numbers, the match is expected to be well-attended. One day, Hamilton would love to see crowds like those she experienced in America.

“Americans love sport. I remember going to a (College) Football game and there being around 75,000 people there; it was incredible.

“The support for women’s rugby in Australia and around the world is growing heaps. If we had 75,000 watching, I’d be stoked, and I think the rest of the world would be stoked. Hopefully one day we will get there. It is going from strength to strength.”

Leidy Soto - Colombia
Women's Feature News Women in Rugby
‘Unstoppable’ Soto ready for next challenge
As Colombia prepares to tackle Brazil in an historic test match in Medellín on Sunday, Leidy Soto – one of the Unstoppables in World Rugby's #TryAndStopUs campaign – is in the thick of things.
WRWC17 A view of the USA team huddle 13/8/2017
Media release Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby
World Rugby announces gender neutral naming for Rugby World Cup tournaments
World Rugby has announced that its flagship 15s and sevens Rugby World Cup properties will no longer include gender in their titles.
Namaka Public School GIR Plus girls with participants of the Oceania Rugby women in leadership participants
Women's Feature News Women in Rugby
Oceania holds inaugural Women's Leadership Workshop
The inaugural Oceania Women's Rugby Leadership Workshop took place in Fiji last week, attended by coaches, medical officials, development manager and women in leadership roles.
Annelies Acda - Women's Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient
Women's Feature News Women in Rugby
Annelies Acda: “I’m using this opportunity as a learning curve”
One of the World Rugby Women's Executive Leadership Scholarship recipients in 2019, Annelies Acda is determined to seize this opportunity to help improve her leadership skills in order to promote rugby, its core values and its ability to tackle a range of social issues in the Netherlands.
Kenya v Uganda - Rugby Africa Women's World Cup
World rankings Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Kenya reach historic high in rankings
Despite missing out on automatic qualification for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021, Kenya can console themselves with a new all-time high position in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings.
Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2019: South Africa v Kenya - CREDIT: Gallo Images
Media release Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby
South Africa qualify for Women's Rugby World Cup 2021
South Africa are the first regional qualifiers for Women's Rugby World Cup 2021 after beating Kenya to win the Rugby Africa Women's Cup which doubled as the qualification pathway.
Australia v New Zealand
World rankings Women's Feature News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Black Ferns go for Moore of the same
New Zealand coach Glenn Moore sticks with a winning formula as his side look to wrap up a 2-0 series win over Australia and cement their place at the top of the World Rugby Women's Rankings.
Stacey Waaka - New Zealand
Women's Feature News Women in Rugby
Stacey Waaka: “I believe everything happens for a reason”
One of the ‘Unstoppables’ in World Rugby’s new campaign to promote women in rugby, Black Ferns star Stacey Waaka is one of a select few to have won Rugby World Cups in sevens and 15s but she may never have had the opportunity to write her name into the history books after being involved in a serious bus crash aged 15.
Danielle Waterman with Italy squad
Sevens Men's Feature News Women in Rugby
Danielle Waterman: "Take any opportunity with both hands"
An unexpected opportunity to coach the Italy men's open sevens side at the World Police and Fire Games in China this week has only reaffirmed Women's Rugby World Cup winner Danielle Waterman's belief that gender isn't what matters in a coach, it's being confident and working hard that earns a team's respect.
Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2019: South Africa v Madagascar
Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby
South Africa and Kenya set up title decider
South Africa and Kenya will meet in a winner-takes-all title decider in the Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2019 on Saturday with the victors qualifying for Women's Rugby World Cup 2021.