Reception with the Australian Men’s Rugby 7s’ Team, 30 May 2019

It was a warm, Australian-style welcome for the country’s successful men’s Rugby 7s team at the Australian Embassy in Paris on the evening of Thursday, 30 May.

In an event jointly hosted by ABIE and the Australian Embassy, Ambassador Brendan Berne threw open his private residence for the team, ABIE members and Embassy guests to enjoy the vast terrace with its stunning views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower.

Australia’s men’s Rugby 7s team was in France for the final round of the global, year-long Sevens Series, and was joined by a relaxed crowd of some 150 people mingling on the terrace, where, in keeping with the Australian theme, BBQ chicken wings and sausages were on the menu.

Peter Murphy, Executive Director of the Australian Rugby Federation, moderated an insightful and humorous Q&A with team coach Tim Walsh and captain Lewis Holland.

Australian Ambassador Brendan Berne and ABIE President Bernard Tabary also provided insights, entertaining the guests with some of their own rugby experiences and exploits.

The event brought together guests including the newly installed Australian Ambassador to the OECD, Dr Alex Robson, members of the Australian community in Cherbourg who are working on the Australia-France submarine contract, and members of the Australia France Alumni Network.

One particularly special guest was Wally, the team’s mascot, who, tradition dictates, is not permitted to leave the hands of the team’s youngest member. Twenty-year-old Jeral Skelton standing at 190 cm tall, was tasked with this important responsibility.

Australia in the Sevens Series

The final round of the men’s Rugby 7s series is scheduled for 1-2 June 2019 at Stade Jean Bouin.

Australia’s women’s team will be in action two weeks later, playing its final round at Stade Aguiléra in Biarritz on the 15 and 16 June. Currently ranked 4th in the competition (one spot ahead of host France), the Australian team will be playing for a top-three finish.

The origins of Rugby 7s

The short, fast sport of Rugby 7s originated in 1883 in Melrose, Scotland. The Melrose club organised an athletic meeting to help overcome financial difficulties. Apprentice butcher Ned Haig and David Sanderson proposed cutting down the teams from 15 to 7 players, and the playing time to 15 minutes, and Rugby 7s was born.

The fast game quickly caught on and was included in the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 1998, followed by the summer Olympic Games in 2016.