From AFLW draftee to Olympics hopeful: Teagan Levi’s rise to SVNS stardom
Teagan and Maddison Levi would’ve been two of the most in-demand athletes in sporting-mad Australia before they made the decision to re-sign with the Australian sevens program this month.
Both Levi sisters have found a home in sevens, and that’s a breath of fresh air for the code following a shambolic few months for rugby union in Australia.
While both sisters were drafted by the Gold Coast Suns in AFLW, the star duo will continue to don Aussie gold for the foreseeable future after penning a deal beyond the Paris Games.
Coach Tim Walsh revealed last week that they had “daily and weekly” offers from rival codes, and it must’ve been temping. Speaking with RugbyPass last year, Maddison said she couldn’t “go a whole day without crying” after leaving the Suns.
Young sister Teagan made the same call to leave AFLW behind, without even playing a game of professional Aussie Rules – although the talent had taken photos in a Suns jersey.
But as the now 20-year-old put it: “We both had that dream to chase and rugby sevens offered that a little bit more.” That decision changed their lives forever.
Both sisters played in Australia’s gold medal-winning sevens side at the 2022 Birmingham Games, they won the 2022 Rugby Sevens World Cup in South Africa, and are World Series champions too.
But there’s a bigger prize on the horizon. Greatness awaits on the world’s biggest sporting stage with nations set to come together at the Paris Olympics next July.
“I got drafted and then obviously rugby approached our manager saying that they wanted us as well,” Tegan Levi told RugbyPass in Brisbane earlier this month.
“It was such a hard decision because growing up I loved both sports and I still love it to this day but you have to look at the future and I think rugby sevens offers more… getting to travel the world and I (with it) being an Olympic year this year it’s pretty exciting.
“We always say the door is not shut to AFLW, we could always go back, but right now my eyes are set on that Olympic medal.
“We’re definitely our own person, 100 per cent, but I think we both had that dream to chase and rugby sevens offered that a little bit more than AFLW.
“That opportunity, once you put your foot in the door, obviously only 13 get to travel to each tournament and 12 people get to play so… once you’re in the door you have to keep your foot there.
“AFL is always there to come back to but as I said, at the moment the priority is rugby sevens.”
In the second half of last season’s World Sevens Series, the Levi sisters showcased their attacking flair and bone-crunching defence as they formed a formidable partnership in Aussie gold.
Maddison went on to break the record for tries scored in a single season with 57, and the 21-year-old was rewarded for her form with a nomination for World Rugby’s Sevens Player of the Year.
While Maddison didn’t win, it just goes to show that the Levi’s are the real deal. Teagan even joked – half serious, half not – that she wants to “be up there with the best but I’ll let her shine for a bit.”
“The Sydney Sevens, I was going on off the bench… then I think (coach Tim) Walshy just had some trust in me and finally got to have a kick and show that I can actually kick,” Teagan added.
“I think it’s good that he believes in me. Hopefully, I can keep starting now as starting kicker and be a young leader for those coming up and coming into the program, but also to guide the team.
“Everyone on the field needs a voice and we always say that it’s a team sport so not one person can do the job, you need effort, support no matter what. I think if we’re all helping each other out, not just one person speaking up for all of us then hopefully we’ll get that job done.”
Following a breakout campaign on the world sevens stage, Teagan is hoping to contribute even more to the successes of the Australian sevens program moving forward.
With the new-look SVNS series getting underway in Dubai this weekend, preseason is in the books. Now is the time for players to make their mark when it counts.
Australia have been globetrotting as they ramped up their preparation for the season. The Aussies flew to Italy, Ireland and Fiji for various small-scale sevens competitions and training runs.
They even get the better of a New Zealand development side – which included World Cup winner Theresa Fitpatrick and rising star Jorja Miller – at Brisbane’s Ballymore Stadium at the Oceania Sevens.
But that’s all in the past. The new-look SVNS series awaits, and the Olympics are not too far behind.
“We always say that if it was easy, everyone would do it.
“When times get hard and tough we always say, ‘You’ve got to support that person next to you because they’re going to help you win that gold medal.’
“When you’re dying out on that field you’ve got to take that next step and push yourself so I think we’re really working hard on supporting each other and hopefully we get that gold medal in the end.
“I’d like to obviously win as many of the World Series as we can as a team. Personally, I want to play my best footy. I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been.
“Obviously being a kicker, restarts are a big thing so giving my girls the best chance to get the ball back.
“Obviously not talking about the gold medal but that’s the big end result.”