Australia’s Sevens teams have received a timely boost with the announcement of AUS$2.2 million in Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) funding.
The one-off grant will give the programmes some critical certainty in a year where their programme has been all but wiped out.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has been postponed and the remainder of the Sevens World Series cancelled in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Australia’s women’s programmes is in a stronger position than the men, off the back of their 2016 Rio Olympics gold medal, and coach John Manenti recently confirmed the programme would remain centralised and full-time in 2021.
This funding gives the men’s programme especially the ability to continue with much greater security.
Most of Australia’s players were under a cloud with their contracts expiring on August 30 and a recent revised player pay deal only applying to Super Rugby AU players, with still no World Series events being played.
A number of players have departed both squads, while Ben O’Donnell recently inked a deal with Ireland’s Connacht.
Rugby AU CEO Rob Clarke said the funding was an endorsement of the teams’ Olympic prospects.
“On behalf of Rugby Australia and both of our Sevens teams, we thank the Australian Institute of Sport for their increased support for our programs,” he told Rugby Australia’s official website.
“This increase is a tick of approval for our teams and the progress they had made before the World Series was suspended with our Australian Women’s Sevens pressing for another title and our Men’s team were finishing the season with a wet sail as they sat in fourth position with four rounds to go.