It may be the last time Queenstown hosts the national
sevens tournament for some time, but there is also an exciting
The New Zealand Rugby Union has included women's teams in the
provincial tournament for the first time with a long-term
view to the sport's debut at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Six teams - Auckland, Tasman, Taranaki, Canterbury, Waikato
and Manawatu - will compete in Arrowtown and Queenstown this
NZRU general manager of public affairs Nick Brown said the
inclusion of sevens as an Olympic sport presented an exciting
opportunity for the growth and profile of the game,
especially for women.
''We expect the additional profile will encourage more
youngsters to take up the game, particularly with the chance
to win an Olympic gold medal.''
Brown makes no secret of the fact the NZRU is targeting gold
medals for both the men and women in Rio de Janeiro.
New Zealand women's sevens coach Sean Horan and long-serving
men's coach Gordon Tietjens will both attend the Queenstown
Otago men's coach Roy Hawker was disappointed the Otago
women's team did not qualify following the South Island
tournament in Timaru.
Although the Otago women performed well in pool play, they
came up short in the semifinal and missed out on the national
Hawker said the addition of women to the weekend would ''add
flavour'' and a new dimension to the sport.
Meanwhile, Brown has defended the NZRU's decision to move the
tournament to Rotorua for a two-year contract from next year,
removing the event from Queenstown after 10 years.
''The Bay of Plenty submission was a compelling proposal and
offered the potential for future expansion of the tournament
in terms of grounds and spectator facilities.
''Rotorua International Stadium will provide a fantastic
environment to showcase the sevens game.''
He praised Queenstown for an ''excellent job'' with the
tournament since taking over in 2003.
''The Sevens with Altitude organising committee deserve real
praise for developing the tournament into a popular event on
the rugby calendar.''