Saving the best till last - that was the feeling of the
Queenstown hosts of the national sevens at the weekend.
Otago said farewell to a tournament it had hosted for 10
years and Sevens with Altitude chairman Clark Frew declared
the final event the best he had seen in that decade.
Saturday pulled in the largest opening-day crowd - 6000 - in
the history of the tournament. This, added to the combination
of good weather, good behaviour, good rugby and the addition
of women's teams, made it the ''best ever'', he said.
''Every year is just slightly different. The highlight for me
is how the game has morphed and grown over the years.''
Frew said he had witnessed the standard of the seven-man game
increase over the years and noticed another improvement this
He attributed that to a bigger emphasis on the future of the
sport by the provinces and the New Zealand Rugby Union, with
sevens now an Olympic discipline.
''There has been a lot more focus on sevens over the past few
years,'' Frew said.
''When we began, the game was almost a preseason gig to get
fit for 15s. Now it's a sport in its own right.''
Lowlights of the past nine years for Frew?''None, really. We
have had very positive feedback. Everyone's enjoyed what we
have done over the last 10 years.''
Frew said he and the Altitude team would offer any assistance
to the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, which hosts the tournament
in Rotorua next year. He had already been in contact with the
Bay's chief executive.
Although the contract in Rotorua is likely to last four
years, Frew hopes the tournament will come back to Queenstown
''We certainly hope so, but whether that happens is still up
in the air.''
Keeping a close eye on the action at the weekend, as usual,
was New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens.
He commended Queenstown organisers for their efforts over the
past 10 years and said he had enjoyed the atmosphere and
''I have enjoyed the time in Queenstown. It's a great place
with great weather.
''Otago always play well here. They play well as a team and
that crowd certainly gets behind them, which lifts the
Tietjens said the standard of sevens in the South Island had
lifted and he hoped that would continue, even when the
tournament moved north.