As Vinnie Jones said at the end of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: it’s been emotional.
As it was in the crackerjack film, so it was at the final whistle of the Dubai 7s for local rugby identity Stevie Berryman who watched three of his nieces, Sariah Paki, Faith Nathan and Alysia Lefau Fakaosilea combine with emerging superstar Maddie Ashby to take out back-to-back titles in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Australian women were unbeaten across the fortnight and triumphed 15-5 over Fiji in the final, who they also beat in the previous week’s showdown.
Two tries from Ashby and another from Nathan – who was also named player of the final – were enough for the Aussies to control affairs against ‘Fijiana’, just as they had in their 22-7 win the previous week.
Asked how proud she was of her performance, Nathan said: “I could do better. But it came with a win so that’s all that matters.”
Asked what it means to fans and the people of Australia, Nathan said: “It’s absolutely unreal, especially going back to back. I don’t think we’ve ever gone back to back.
“But big ups to Fiji who really friggin gave it to us, which was good.”
Watching at home was proud uncle Steve who told the Beaches Champion that he and the extended Berryman-Nathan-Duff-Marsters-Paki clan could not be prouder of his three nieces and Maddi Ashby.
“Faith was told by the coaches to lift her defence. And she did that one hundred per cent. And to go with her natural running game, she’s become a more complete rugby player.
“And Sariah, Alysia and Maddi go from strength to strength. They’re loving their footy and it’s great to be able to watch them on the world stage.
“I got up at 2am to watch and I’m just so stoked for all the girls,” Berryman said.
Three of the girls – Sariah, Faith and Maddi – are part of Manly Mermaids’ rugby system but have mostly come up through the Manly Warringah Touch Football Association.
Alysia came from Auckland via Queensland and now calls Collaroy home.
Rugby league looms on the horizon for the girls though Berryman has urged them to stay in rugby for the time being.
“I told them they can see the world with rugby. There’s the Sevens series, the Olympics, the World Cup.
“They’re still young and there are such great opportunities.
“And rugby league’s not going anywhere,” Berryman said.
Next up for the Australian sevens team is two weeks in Spain (Malaga and Seville) in late January, followed by Langford (Canada) in April and Toulouse (France) in May.