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Dubai win for the Wallaroos

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Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry holding the Dubai Sevens cup, flanked by team and coach (Image via worldrugby.org)

The relatively unsung Australian women’s rugby team won the Dubai Sevens world rugby tounament on the weekend, reports Lachlan Barker.

I SUSPECT many will be unfamiliar with the Wallaroos in a sporting context.

Well, the Wallaroos are the Australian women’s rugby team and, over the weekend, they won the Dubai Sevens world rugby tournament.

Sevens rugby is an abbreviated form of the game, designed for running rugby and lots of it.

While the 15 person game is generally won and lost through the power of the forwards, sevens is a game for the fast players.

So the Wallaroos showed plenty of speed, and brought home the silverware. The Australians had a great tournament, which included a gritty semi-final win against New Zealand. Down 12-0 the 'Roos showed they had what it takes and ground their way back to beat the Women All Blacks 15-12.

Thus, final time, came and Australia – literally and metaphorically – streaked away from Russia to win 31-12.

This upcoming Olympics in Rio 2016 sees rugby sevens added to the schedule and so Australia’s women players are looking like they are hitting their straps right on cue for the Olympic tournament.

Back home and another of those crossovers between sport and the environment is taking place.

I tuned in to the ABC on Sunday afternoon for the women’s soccer to discover that the scheduled televised match between Perth and Adelaide had been delayed due to heat.

Certainly the right thing to do as, when I checked the weather chart for Adelaide that afternoon, it was indeed brutal conditions — baking hot and very dry.

The broadcast structure for the soccer this summer was to be the women’s match first during the afternoon, followed by the higher rating men’s match in the evening, during prime time on television.

However, the events of Sunday afternoon raised an ongoing issue that has no immediate solution.

This summer is looking like a disturbingly hot one, certainly on a macro scale it is well recorded that the planet is getting warmer.

So, we may see an increasing number of women’s matches delayed due to heat, which may mean less women’s soccer on TV. Sunday’s match for instance, had to be moved to the nearest available field, which had no broadcast equipment available, so the game wasn’t televised.

The upcoming weekend’s round of women’s matches are in the afternoon, except for one match at 7pm. Thankfully, the weather forecast is for lower temperatures in the twenties. So this weekend shouldn’t see any problems for player safety. However as we step into deep summer the mercury will climb and we’ll just have to wait and see.

The women’s players of Australia and the fans of the women’s game now have a cast iron good reason to combat global warming. Everything is connected to everything else as the saying goes, and who’d have thought burning all that coal would have the unintended consequence of making it difficult to broadcast women’s soccer?

As for the matches themselves, Melbourne City retained their perfect record beating Melbourne Victory 4-0.

In Sydney, Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers played out a 2-2 draw. While the above mentioned delayed Adelaide-Perth match ended 1-1.

On Saturday afternoon Canberra were too good for Brisbane winning 2-0.

Newcastle had the bye.

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered why soccer in Australia is played in summer, when it is a winter sport mostly, it’s down to crowd numbers.

In the eighties, the Sydney Swans came to town and the rugby league realised they had to up their game to match the slickly professional marketing of the Aussie rules.

This they did, best represented by the successful Tina Turner led "Simply the Best" campaign.

Soccer, already the poor cousin of football codes realised they couldn’t compete for crowds with both Aussie rules and rugby league, so made the move to summer with the bulk of the matches played on Sunday evenings.

Generally, this has been a successful move though now with a warming planet things may have to be looked at again.

Since the men’s soccer A-League is now a standalone successful enterprise in its own right, a move back to winter may be contemplated.

Time – and temperature – will tell, I guess.

Also in the world of women’s sport was the cricket, with the 20-20 competition beginning this most recent weekend.

Code hopping from tennis to cricket, Ashleigh Barty had a down and up weekend for her new team, the Brisbane Heat.

The Heat played back to back matches against the Melbourne Stars at Junction Oval in St Kilda.

Australian captain Meg Lanning stole the show in the first match on Saturday afternoon, scoring 75 not out from 56 deliveries. The Victorians made 147 to beat the Heat by ten runs. Barty was out for 1 on debut.

However, come Sunday, Barty found her feet, hitting out for 39 of 27 balls, with three fours and one six.

Melbourne won the match, though, with Lanning again leading from the top with 90 from 58, taking her team to 156 leaving the Heat trailing 20 runs behind at the close.

The other WBBL game over the weekend saw the Sydney Derby between the Thunder and the Sixers. The Sixers batted first and were clattered by Thunder bowler Lauren Cheatle, who took four wickets and came through to the end of the twenty overs 9 down for 101.

Then the Thunder lived up to their name passing the Sixers’ score only one wicket down.

West Indian star Stafanie Taylor led the way with a thunderous 59 from 38 balls with nine fours and a six.

So, off to a good start for the women cricketers, new recruit Barty showing she has what it takes, while leader Lanning led from off.

And a final note for those who love the underdog, on the weekend in the English soccer Premier League, lowly Bournemouth defeated Chelsea 1-0 away, at Chelsea’s home ground, Stamford Bridge.

Bournemouth are a newly promoted team to the English Premier League and have spent the first part of the season in the relegation zone.

Chelsea are a gigantic, well-heeled, sprawling edifice in European soccer, so this was a big deal for the south coast minnows.

To be fair, Chelsea are struggling themselves at 14th on the table out of 20, but this mighty achievement by Bournemouth pulls them up to fourth last and out of the relegation zone — at least for a week.

Results like that are what continually drive hard core fans of lowly teams back to the terraces for another afternoon.

So well done Wallaroos, a good start for Barty and a big well done for the Cherries, AFC Bournemouth.

Lachlan Barker blogs at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au. You can also follow Lachlan on Twitter at @cyclonecharlie8.

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