New Zealand Back for Oceania Sevens, as Asian Qualifiers Heat Up

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HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016/17 Kitakyushu - Day 2
Merewai Cumu of Fiji offloads the ball during the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016/17 Kitakyushu bronze final between Australia and Fiji at Kitakyushu Stadium on April 23, 2017 in Kitakyushu, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

New Zealand back for Oceania Sevens 2017 after missing out last year. The Kiwi men and women’s sides make a welcome return, to bolster the Oceania Sevens from November 10-11. In total, 21 International teams will feature in the two-day sevens fiesta.

Good news for Fiji, as their Government have given their blessings to back the championship. The Oceania Sevens will be held in Fiji for the next three years.

“We see this as building on the outstanding success of our rugby teams in the Olympic Games last year, and supporting the bid by the FRU (Fiji Rugby Union) to host a leg of the HSBC Seven’s Series here on our doorstep.

“Fiji hope that home ground advantage will help our teams out-perform all our visitors, including the defending Olympic women’s rugby champions!” said Honourable Laisenia Tuitubou, Minister for Youth and Sports speaking with oceaniarugby.com.

New Zealand Back For Oceania Sevens

The Kiwis will provide the biggest hurdle to defending champions Fiji and Australia in Suva. It will be Clark Laidlaw’s first Oceania tournament in charge of the Men’s All Black Sevens side. Alan Bunting will also be bringing his defending HSBC Women’s Sevens Series side, the Kiwi Sevens Sisters, who will light up the event.

New Zealand are returning to the regional Championships in 2017, following an absence in 2016 [where they were hosts only]. Tony Philp, NZR High Performance Sevens Manager said “We’re pleased to have the Oceania Tournament back on our sevens calendar. I know that our players will look forward to playing in Fiji.

“Not only will it be a quality competition on the field, the hospitality of the Fijian people off the field is always special.”

“It will provide great preparation for our teams as they head into a busy season of sevens. That includes the Commonwealth Games and World Cup,” Philip added speaking to oceaniarugby.com.

Fiji Rugby CEO John O’Connor further added, “It is great news that New Zealand will now be part of the tournament. We will now have Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia in the men’s competition and likewise in the Women’s competition which will provide a great opportunity for rugby supporters in Fiji to watch these teams at the ANZ Stadium.”

The venue is now of an ‘A standard’ after hosting several Super Rugby matches and Pacific Nations Cup games. The fans should be out in force, during the November International event.

Fijians watch watch the Sevens rugby final between Fiji and Britain the Rio Olympics, inside ANZ stadium in Suva on August 12, 2016. (Photo credit FEROZ KHALIL/AFP/Getty)

Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifying Tournament

The tournament will also be the qualifying tournament for both the RWC Sevens and Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. One spot each is up for grabs in both Men’s and Women’s competition.

The winner in the Men’s qualifier will join Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and Samoa in San Francisco. The highest finishing women’s team will be decided outside of the four women’s sides who have already qualified. The Kiwi girls as defending champs, and the other three sides by virtue of their ranking from last seasons HSBC World Sevens Series.

Teams were drawn into four Pools in the Men’s competition, with the Womens teams drawn into three pools.

Men’s Pool A has defending champs Fiji, with American Samoa and New Caledonia. New Zealand lead Pool B, with Nauru and Cook Islands. Pool C has Australia, with Tonga ans Solomon Islands. And Pool D will see four sides competing: Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tuvalu.

In the Women’s Draws, defending Oceania and Olympic champions Australia head Pool B with Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

New Zealand Sisters heads Pool A with Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Tahiti.

Fiji Government Backing Oceania Sevens

The Fiji Government has given its full support for the Oceania Sevens, which is a good chance for Fiji to show the world that they can host an international event. It will also boost their chances of hosting a leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series.

“With FRU’s announcement that it will be bidding for a leg of the HSBC World Sevens from 2020, the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship will give our country a great opportunity to build our hosting credentials over the next three years. And our players will relish the chance to compete against world class teams in front of a home crowd” John O’Connor, FRU CEO on oceaniarugby.com

Ms Cathy Wong, Women’s Direction Oceania Rugby noted that across the Pacific and in Fiji, rugby is a key way that people come together, gain status, and celebrate the countries pride. adding, “Oceania Rugby is committed to bringing International events to the Pacific Islands.

“With a record 21 teams in this year’s competition we look forward to showcasing the Gold Standard that is Rugby in Oceania to the rest of the World.”

“I’d like to thank the Government of Fiji for their support and assistance which enables Oceania Rugby to use the sport’s platform to raise awareness, build understanding, adjust negative social norms, and support innovative solutions to promote gender equality and rugby values including respect and solidarity.”

2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens Asian Qualifiers

Round Two of the Asian Men’s Qualifiers also get underway this weekend at Incheon, South Korea. Hong Kong and Japan remain as the front runners. Two men’s places are available for the Asian Region to the RWCS tournament in San Francisco.

In other news, the Asian Women’s tourney will kick-off their Round One of qualifiers. This follows on from the Africa Women’s 7s which has just been won by South Africa.

Kenya Women Qualify for Commonwealth Games

Kenya after beating Tunisia in the African Women’s 2018 RWC Qualifiers have booked their spot to the Gold Coast. Two spots were available for the African Region, with eventual winners South Africa taking the other spot.

Even though they missed out in playing at the World Cup, the mighty Lionesses will be ready for the Commonwealth Games, in April.

World Rugby is compiling all the qualifiers, for the pinnacle event in San Francisco, come July 2018.

 

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