This week UR7s spoke to Australian Sevens veteran Tim Walsh in the build up to Edinburgh Sevens. We get his views on how the IRB Sevens has developed, what the players get up to in between tournaments, and a blueprint to how the Aussies can start challenging for honours. Tim how nice is it to be back in the Australian fold after some time out? Always a privilege and an honour. I will never say no and never get tired of pulling that gold jersey over my shoulders.
This week UR7s spoke to Australian Sevens veteran Tim Walsh in the build up to Edinburgh Sevens. We get his views on how the IRB Sevens has developed, what the players get up to in between tournaments, and a blueprint to how the Aussies can start challenging for honours.
Tim how nice is it to be back in the Australian fold after some time out?
Always a privilege and an honour. I will never say no and never get tired of pulling that gold jersey over my shoulders.
With a vastly different team to the one that made some good progress in Adelaide, how did you feel you guys went at Twickenham?
Alot of new faces and we performed very well on the first day. Inexperience and the toll on the body that 7s rugby delivers left a few of the guys a little flat on the second day. We need to work on our set piece, re-starts and depth in the Edinburgh.
Clinton Sills and James Stannard looked sharp at the weekend, what’s their 7s background and who else should we be looking at to make their mark in Scotland?
Clinton Sills has raw speed, talent and determination. As green as they come he is a player to watch for the future. James Stannard played brilliantly in his first tournament and with that experience he should be able to build on his initial performance. The ever impressive Willy Bishop is a hot stepper and can break down any defensive line but the real bolter is another young talent Dom Shipperley. Intelligent player with strength and speed.
You are a relative veteran on the 7s circuit these days – how has IRB Sevens developed?
It gets better everytime I play. The standard rises year on year largely due to the experience of the coaches and players. I notice that coaches always share information, thoughts and ideas on the game. Everybody is always looking for the edge which of course improves the game as a whole. Countries still hold onto their uniqueness and style but techniques are shared, trialled and implemented that suits the specific team. The IRB 7s itself is a true international world series. Well organised, great locations and great support. I think it could be marketed a little better in order to bring on some more sponsors.
You have played with and against Ben Gollings in recent times. Where does he stand in the pantheon of guys to have played 7s?
Records speak for themselves - one of the world's greatest. He has been the lynchpin and backbone of England's success for over a decade. Ben is a big game player and delivers year after year wherever he plays in the world. Ben is a personality on and off the field and encapsulates a professional IRB 7s player. Often found bouncing off walls or chewing the ear off the competitors Ben is a true ambassador for the game.
Have you been surprised on how open the IRB has been with this year with the improvement of Portugal and Kenya etc?
Not surprised at all. 7s is all about fitness, skill but equally as important is experience. These guys are core 7s players and improve year on year. It is great for the game of 7s. Personally I think it is the best job in the world.
What do Australia need to do to consistently start challenging for the ‘Cup’ in the IRB?
Sign core players to two year contracts. Specific 7s training and experience. Australia has the talent and the competitive nature to win Cups.
Can you give a brief insight to what a team gets up to in the week leading up to an IRB event?
It is actually pretty full on these days. Training, recovery, physio and analysis but of course the switch off or down time!! Visiting such wonderful and historic countries the team is encouraged to take it all in. The beauty of this game is the travel and people you meet. This week the Aussies have visited the epic Edinburgh castle and tempted fait in the ghost chambers of the underground market square.
How is Sevens received back home in Australia, does it stoke up much interest?
7s I think and believe is a brilliant development tool for young players. 7s magnifies everyting you do in rugby 15s and exposes players to professional environments and international experience and pressures. In Australia 7s is very much seen as developmental tool (sink or swim). It would be nice to have a balance of both experience and youth, do this and I think Australia will be back competeting for the Cup.
Would Olympic inclusion see the game of 7s radically grow in Australia?
I would say yes. More funding and the chance of an Olympic Games birth and gold medal would not only attract players to focus on 7s but also attract the sport fanatics of Australia.
What’s been the reaction from your Aussie mates to the fact you now have citizenship to the UK?!
Bit of banter but more jealously - dual citizenship passports are like gold dust these days for us Australians.
Will you be turning out for Samurai again in the near future, how enjoyable is it playing for them?
Absolutely. Possibly Manchester in July. Samurai are a true advocate and loyal subject to 7s rugby, they encapsulate the rugby player on and off the field. Fierce and successful competitors on the field and social and cooperative off. They of course are always best dressed too!
Most enjoyable moment playing 7s?
So many!! Hong Kong is tough to beat but winning Brisbane 7s in 2002 is a lasting memory.
Tim Walsh was speaking to Robin Heymann