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Women's rugby gold to spur next generation

AAP logoAAP 24/08/2016

Australia's Olympic gold medal-winning women's rugby sevens players hope their success in Rio can propel the sport on home soil.

The team landed at Sydney Airport on Wednesday morning to a heroine's welcome.

Flanker Shannon Parry believes their inaugural gold, sealed with a 24-17 victory over New Zealand in the final, can be the inspiration for the next generation.

"This will undoubtedly develop pathways for women in rugby and that's what we're trying to do," she told AAP.

"It's exciting times and the future for women's rugby is very bright."

Earlier this month, the Australia Rugby Union (ARU) announced a high-performance women's university sevens series, run in partnership with Australian University Sport, in 2017.

Teams will include university students and marquee players, some drafted from the Australian sevens squads.

Parry said she wants the 21-strong national fulltime squad to be bolstered by more part-time players.

"I'd like to possibly see more development players ... going forward, no doubt the ARU is looking at what we're going to do."

Australia's rugby sevens team turned professional two-and-a-half years ago, a key factor in their rise.

"All the hard work has finally paid off," Parry said.

"We're very thankful that we've been given the opportunity to be fulltime athletes.

"Without that support we wouldn't have gotten off the plane with a gold medal."

The team have already set their sights on claiming a second world series win next year.

"That's our first goal and then focusing on World Cup and Commonwealth Games," Charlotte Caslick said.

The fact the team returned to Australia on a chartered international flight was perhaps proof their part-time days are long gone.

"We got business class, which was our first time together as a team," Caslick said.

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