Aussie Sevens star Chloe Dalton hopes the new Uni 7s Series can follow the path of America’s college sports.
Former basketballer and Olympic gold Medallist Dalton will line up for Macquarie Uni in the inaugural competition, which introduces a new element to Australia’s rugby pathway.
“Looking at the college system in America, how successful they are with their sports, if we can try and replicate that on a smaller scale and try and unearth that talent at a university age, that’ll be massive,” Dalton said.
The US’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a billion-dollar body regulating intercollegiate athletic programs within America, and is one of the most popular sporting associations in the world.
Major college football games can attract close to 100,000 fans, with the attention stemming from a network of passionate alumni.
Dalton said she hoped the Uni7s could replicate that environment and tap into the talent at universities across Australia, with Macquarie competing, as well as teams from Canberra, Adelaide, Tasmania, New England, Bond, Queensland and Griffith.
“I think the talent’s definitely out there, whether it’s girls already playing rugby, or girls who are playing other sports and getting them to transition across, I think that’ll be a great way to go about it,” she said.
“Hopefully we can unearth some of that talent, some of the girls will have an opportunity to come and train with us, and play a few of those tournaments before we start in the World Series.”
At a more local level, Dalton said the tribalism in the new competition would hopefully unlock some of the passion that club rugby has enjoyed this season.
The Uni 7s tournaments will tie in with National Rugby Championship matches to build a stronger atmosphere for both fixtures.
“I know local footy has been doing really well, even watching the Warringah-Manly (Shute Shield) derby just the other day, seeing how many people were down there, hopefully we can replicate that.”
Dalton said the ability for friends and family to come and watch international players would also be a rare benefit of the competition, with just one World Series tournament in Australia.
“The fact that they can now just come on down to one of the local fields to watch us play in this 7s comp will be great.
“I’m hoping that a lot of people who haven’t watched Sevens before will also get down and support and hopefully some young girls will see it and be keen to give it a crack.”
The Aon Uni7s kicks off at the University of Tasmania in Launceston on August 25 and 26, with the action LIVE on RUGBY.com.au.