Griffith moves to the top of rugby sevens ladder

Team shot of Griffith girls celebrating with trophy
Griffith is celebrating back-to-back series wins in the AON Uni 7s. Photo: Rugby.com.au

Griffith University has surged clear at the top of the AON Uni 7s Series ladder after a powerful showing on the Gold Coast at the weekend. The Griffith girls made it back-to-back series wins after a gutsy showing in the gold medal match against University of Sydney.

The NSW side proved strong opponents and took the game to Griffith in the first half only to be repelled by an onslaught of ferocious tackling. Education student Kahli Henwood nicked the only try of the first half before Griffith started to turn the screw on the surprise finalists in the second half.

Doubles from Kirby Sefo and Exercise Science student Sophie Quirk took the game away from the Sydneysiders and put Griffith in poll position to take out the series heading in the final round in Adelaide.

Captain and Bachelor of Public Relations and Communication student, Kiri Lingwood (left), issued note of caution to her charges who will take a four point advantage at the top of the table into the final round in Adelaide on October 20-21. “Every uni is hot on our tails, so we don’t want to get complacent. We’ve got a lot to work on and we’ll just focus on the first game heading into Adelaide,” she said.

“We don’t want to get wrapped up in the final run. We’ll just keep working on what we need to work on. We’ll go away and have a look at the videos and review what we need to work on.”

An unbeaten weekend saw Griffith defeat University of Canberra (45-5), University of Tasmania (48-0), Bond University (24-5) and University of Sydney (20-17) in the pool games, before overcoming University of Queensland 33-5 in the semi-finals, and seeing the job through with a 31-0 win in the final.

The side’s unrelenting approach was epitomised with an overtime try from Sophie Quirk who made a lung-bursting dash almost the length of the field before producing a remarkable piece of grounding under pressure in the corner.

“It looked like I was running on a treadmill near the end, there wasn’t too much gas in the tank,” Sophie said. Her effort was all the more noteworthy after putting a bout of glandular fever behind her last week to line out in the red of Griffith. “We haven’t celebrated too much. It’s straight back into training on Tuesday and Thursday,” she said.

Sophie (19) was by cousin and Olympic sevens gold medallist, Alicia Quirk, to take up rugby sevens and played at under-18 nationals level as a 15-year-old with the ACT Brumbies. This commitment to the sport is balanced by her focus on her Bachelor of Exercise Science studies. She says the support of the Griffith Sports College during the five-round series has been immense and important.

“They have been really helpful with deferring assessments and exams during the times when I’ve been away. I’m also lucky enough to have a Sports College scholarship which means I don’t have to worry about working as well as study and sport. It’s all about time management and getting the head down. When we are travelling (to competitions), we often all study on the plane.”