University of Canberra in sevens heaven as boutique plan revealed
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University of Canberra in sevens heaven as boutique plan revealed

The University of Canberra want to bring the University Sevens back to the ACT next year, but they also have a long-term goal of building a boutique stadium on campus to host it.

Canberra hosted a leg of the national sevens tournament for the first time on the weekend, with the home team finishing fifth and Macquarie University winning the title.

University of Canberra director of sport Carrie Graf said they would evaluate their first attempt in the coming weeks, but she was keen to bring a leg back to the ACT next year.

University of Canberra's Ngawai Eyles makes a break. The campus hopes the sevens will one day be played on a boutique stadium.

University of Canberra's Ngawai Eyles makes a break. The campus hopes the sevens will one day be played on a boutique stadium.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

She was happy with how it had gone, given it was essentially a "pop-up event" on the same pitch Super Rugby team ACT Brumbies train on.

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Graf said they would like to build the tournament to the point where it gave Canberra a "real home-court advantage" - giving away her background as one of Australia's most successful basketball coaches.

"Yeah absolutely [we want it back]. This is a great learning experience in terms of what our facilities can host in the rugby space," she said on Sunday.

"Our pitch is world-class ... but it would be nice to grow some things around it so we could really host a schmick tournament.

"To have a boutique show oval on campus would be phenomenal to host a lot of the outdoor codes. We've got some great spaces to do that. That'll certainly be part of the plan moving forward."

The national women's sevens competition is a joint venture between UniSport and Rugby Australia.

UniSport board member Peter McGrath praised the tournament as "well run" with "good facilities".

He was keen for Canberra to host another leg of the series next year as well.

"Absolutely. Definitely. Playing it consistently in locations is really good because you start to build up some local interest," McGrath said.

"The tournament is gathering momentum. On-the-field is getting better all the time and I think there's an opportunity for the universities to advertise their campuses, especially with the live streaming."

Canberra coach Dave Grimmond hoped the University Sevens continued to grow.

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It expanded to a 10-team competition this year with a fifth tournament added to the schedule - along with a two-week gap between events.

He said building it further would only strengthen Australia's gold-medal winning women's team further, especially given it has replaced the sevens nationals.

"I hope they grow this tournament. It's gone from four tournaments last year to five this year with a two-week break in between," Grimmond said.

"So it gives you time to iron out niggles and injuries and work on things.

"This is the pinnacle of what girls want to aim for. If they can keep growing it it's only going to make our Australian team stronger."

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.