2014 Hong Kong Sevens
Joeli Lutumailagi of Fiji evades a tackle during the play off Cup match between Australia and Fiji during day three of the 2014 Hong Kong Sevens at Hong Kong International Stadium on March 30, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The 2016 Central Coast Sevens will be one of the toughest International Sevens Invitational tournaments, with teams coming from far and wide to compete. A thoroughbred event among players and Pacific nations especially, with Fiji teams ready to invade the Wyong Rugby League Club, in Kanwal.

On this weekend, from the 22-24 of October, played annually north of Sydney, Australia, the Central Coast setting brings the best of both worlds. Sunshine, enthusiastic crowds, plus a proximity to a major centre–many of the premier men and women will descend on the Tuggerah Lake district.

Over the tournament, the Olympics Gold Medalist Australian Women’s side will be divided into two teams. The Aussie Pearls Green and the Aussie Pearls Gold sides, in an attempt to gain the most from the event and heading towards Dubai in December.

How the CC7’s all started?

The Central Coast Sevens (CC7’s) concept was founded in 2008, with the inaugural tournament played in 2009. According to tournament co-ordinator Craig Morgan; speaking to Last Word On Rugby exclusively, he said:

”Since the inaugural tournament the CC7’s has developed to be widely regarded as the toughest tournament, outside the World Sevens Series”

This year is no different as they also have a youth competition. The tournament will have 16 Men’s teams and 12 Women’s teams. As well, eight youth male and eight female youth teams will look towards a bright future for the game.

Besides local teams, the invitation tournament has always attracted a strong Pacific presence. And that is not going to change in 2016.

Fijian Teams Invade Central Coast Sevens

Seven Fijian men’s teams will be competing, like past champions Daveta and last year runners up Tabadamu. The draw for the UON Cup men’s tournament has been broken into four pools of four teams. Daveta is in Pool C with Tabadamu, NSW 7s and Australian University.

Fiji’s Olympic winners Jerry Tuwai and Apisai Domolaialai are both representing Daveta–sadly for them, Osea Kolinisau was a late withdrawal. In a surprising move, Ben Gollings has accepted an SOS to play in his place at the CC7’s.

The Daveta side is laced with sevens stars like Emosi Mulevoro and stalwarts in Sekonaia Kalou, Pio Manu and Akariva Nabati. They have also roped in Yamacia’s Sevuloni Mocenacagi and Jone Waqaliva.

The Australian Thunderbolts side leads Pool A, together with Tongan National Champions Toloa Old Boys. However another Fijian side Ratu Filise is also in the group, with a quality West Harbour side.

2015 Champions Police hope to defend title

CC7’s champs Police leads Pool B, with fellow Fijian side Uluinakau Babas. Expect strong competition from the Aussie Development side, as much as the LM Indegeneous side. Police will have the service of former Fiji sevens stars in Joeli Lutumailagi and Mitieli Nacagilevu. They also have the services of Keponi Paul together with Livai Ikanikoda.

Jasa Veremalua and Masivesi Dakuwaqa who were part of that Olympic Gold Medal winning team, will lead the Hideaway Hurricanes. They are in Pool D with Newton Rugby as well as Sydney University and ACT Brumbies.

Jesse Parahi speaks to Last Word On Rugby

Speaking with the former coast resident, and current national men’s representative Jesse Parahi, he talked of the challenges at the CC7’s with Jovilisi Waqa.

“I’ve been an ambassador since the very start, and it has been an absolute honour to be able to work with Craig and his team. They are extremely dedicated and do a wonderful job. Unfortunately I’ve only played in the tournament once about five years ago, but I have been lucky enough to help coach a couple of different teams over the years. It has certainly made me think about the game a bit differently.”

Jesse Parahi
Jesse Parahi of the Australian Men’s Sevens Rugby Team (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

He, along with many commentators, are always wary of the quality of teams that are invited to attend the weekend. “In my opinion the CC7’s is the toughest tournament outside the Sevens Series. The caliber of teams and players it attracts is unbelievable. So it is great that the Australian national teams have been able to capitalize on that and play some of the world’s best right here on our doorstep.”

Tough call to chose the UON Cup favourites

“This year will be tough to call. There are a lot of quality sides from Fiji flying over for the tournament, and I’m hearing that West Harbour are likely to be bringing a few surprises along as well. We [Thunderbolts] are using this tournament as a lead-in to Dubai Sevens (2-3 December).

And we will be blooding a few new players, so it will be very interesting to see who steps-up to the plate. I think if we don’t win it, we will go very close!”

Australian Women’s Side to play two combinations

Within the 12 strong women’s Kinesio Cup competition, the Aussie Pearls Green and Gold ‘combination’ teams will hope to draw the most from expanding their output. While not the same exact Gold winning women’s group, they hold the same mindsets–to play an organized but expansive game.

The three pool women’s tournament involves many invitational sides, like Japan, NZ Wasps and the Ozboks team. They will oppose three New South Wales (NSW) teams, a Queensland side, a composite Fiji/Aus team and the Brumbies.

Expect the women to bring as much fire and pace, as the men will. The game in Australia is extremely popular, with a high focus on women, men and the junior level. That is promoted by the national VIVA 7’s program. Plus all national sides will use the CC7’s to fine tune their squads before the HSBC Sevens Series begins in December.

Full weekend of sevens action ahead

The action got under way today, with the under-17s tournament before the biggest international tournament outside the world series kicks into action, tomorrow. Along with the on-field play, families can enjoy a variety of entertainment including DJ, mascots, amusements, giveaways, music and dance.

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The Central Coast Sevens results will be published on Tuesday, with a ‘Lowdown’ on the highlights and winners, by resident LWOR sevens expert Jovilisi Waqa.

“Main photo credit”

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