Half-centurion Charlotte Caslick continues to shine for Australia

The Australia captain has made a huge contribution to the growth of women’s sevens since making her series debut in Amsterdam 11 years ago.

The road that ultimately led Charlotte Caslick to become the first woman to appear in 50 series tournaments began 11 years ago, in May 2013 at Amsterdam’s National Rugby Centre.

In the opening match of the final tournament of the inaugural World Series campaign, an 18-year-old Caslick emerged from the bench to help Australia beat Spain 31-7 and take her first step on what would become an historic journey.

A maiden start, and try, arrived against Brazil a couple of hours later and although that first experience ended in the disappointment of a seventh-place finish, it was the beginning of one of the most iconic careers in rugby sevens.

By the time she left Amsterdam, Caslick was an undisputed starter. She appeared at her first Rugby World Cup Sevens only six weeks later, and in November played a pivotal role as Australia won their maiden Cup title in Dubai.

Caslick has gone on to play a part in each of her country’s subsequent 14 tournament wins, while spearheading the charge to overall series titles in 2015-16, 2018 and 2022.

Now Australia captain, she sits fourth on the all-time list of female series try scorers while her durability is highlighted by the fact that she has missed only six tournaments en route to her half century.

In that time Caslick has also experienced Olympic glory, scoring in the gold medal match at Rio 2016, and helped Australia to Commonwealth Games 2022 and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 success.

Going it alone

Her achievements in 2016, when she steered Australia to both the overall series title and Olympic gold were recognised with the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year award.

Yet, despite accomplishing so much as a player, Caslick still felt a pang of self-awareness last Friday as she made her way out onto the BC Place pitch alone ahead of Australia’s opening match against Japan in Vancouver.

“I had to last year as well for my 250th game. I was running out on my own, which is sort of embarrassing,” admitted Caslick, whose team-mates had surprised her earlier in the week by donning commemorative t-shirts.

Any awkwardness quickly faded, however, and it was fitting that she marked the first appearance of her 50th series tournament with a try, and that she received the scoring pass from her long-time team-mate Sharni Smale (née Williams).

Smale made her series debut six months before Caslick and the pair have each played a huge part in the growth of women’s sevens, both in Australia and worldwide, since then.

“I’ve been playing for a long time. Back when I first started we had like four or five-max tournaments a year so to now have all of them alongside the men is pretty cool just to see how far the game’s gone,” Caslick said.

“I’ve been so fortunate to go through with the Rio 2016 group and win that gold medal and then we’ve inspired all these girls to play, and to still be a part of the team and their journey has been pretty special.

“Teagan and Maddi [Levi] are my biggest fans. They always run out behind me, and you can always see them with pure joy on their faces.

“It’s just great to see girls pumping up the girls and getting behind each other.”

Seeing change

The youngsters that Caslick and Smale have inspired over the past decade include a number of their current team-mates.

Isabella Nasser, for example, attended the same high school as Caslick but seven years later, and was exposed to many more opportunities when it came to rugby.

“When I was at school, they wouldn’t put a female team in, so I trained with the boys in Year 12 and our teacher, Mr Sione, he was awesome and let me train with the First XV and learn rugby,” Caslick added.

“Once I finished, obviously girls like Bella were coming through so the school decided to put in rugby teams.

“I think just those little changes that we’ve seen in Australia now, like girls can play rugby from six to all the way through to the open women’s grades. That wasn’t a thing when I was growing up.

“I think that’s the biggest change and the best part about it.”

Given she scored two tries, made a remarkable 28 carries and 11 tackles in three days in Vancouver, it’s clear Caslick will be inspiring young players for a while yet.

Last updated: Feb 27, 2024, 2:32:56 PM
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