Rugby: Tough draw for Otago at sevens

Otago has a tough draw at next month's national sevens tournament in Queenstown.

Otago, which made it through to the final of the tournament in January this year, is drawn to face North Harbour, Wairarapa-Bush and Hawkes Bay in its pool.

Otago won the southern regional final in Timaru last month but would have qualified for the national tournament anyway as it hosts the event. The tournament takes place on January 12-13.

Otago will start with a game against Wairarapa-Bush, followed by North Harbour, which is always competitive.

The home team will play the final game of the opening day against Hawkes Bay.

Hawkes Bay may be one of the teams to beat at the tournament as it won the central regional tournament last week, beating Manawatu in the final.

Defending champion Auckland has been drawn in the same pool as South Canterbury, Tasman and Wellington.

Southland will play Manawatu, Waikato and Northland. Taranaki, Counties-Manukau, Canterbury and Bay of Plenty make up the other pool.

Waikato won the northern regional tournament earlier this month.

With six women's teams - Auckland, Tasman, Taranaki, Canterbury, Waikato and Manawatu - also playing, there is a squeeze on at the main ground at Queenstown.

Six women's games will be played on the Saturday at Jack Reid Park in Arrowtown.

Sevens with Altitude chairman Clark Frew said they could have played all the games at the Queenstown Recreation Ground but it would have made for a very early start on Saturday.

The first women's game at Arrowtown will start at 11.10am and the last game will be at 1.10pm.

Games start at 10.30am on Saturday in Queenstown and then at 9.05am on Sunday.

The men's final is at 6.30pm on Sunday, later than usual. It is preceded by the women's final, kicking off at 5.55pm.

The tournament will have its swansong in Queenstown next month, with the NZRU announcing last week it would be played in Rotorua in 2014 and 2015.