National sevens changes to boost standard

The Tauranga Domain will play host to the national sevens tournament next year. Photo: Getty Images
The Tauranga Domain will play host to the national sevens tournament next year. Photo: Getty Images
The ability to use more quality players and have them maintain fitness more easily has led to the national sevens tournament moving forward a month.

The tournament will be played in Rotorua on January 13, but will then be played  in December at the new venue of Tauranga.

The games will be played at the Tauranga Domain and the city has been locked in for three years.

New Zealand Rugby high performance sevens manager Tony Philip said the new date aligned the tournament with the national sides.

"Bringing the Nationals Sevens forward to December means that unions will be able to call on players from their Mitre 10 Cup, Heartland Championship and Farah Palmer Cup campaigns to be involved, which will improve the standard of competition," he said.

"It also provides a platform for selection to the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens for the following World Series."

The event was revised in Queenstown in 2003 and went for 10 years there before it moved to Rotorua in 2013.

The tournament in Rotorua never seemed to capture the city’s imagination, not helped by a date where a lot of locals are out of town, while the venue is not in the city centre.

Players who had played in the provincial competitions such as the Mitre 10 Cup found it too hard to maintain fitness right through until mid-January for the national tournament. Having Christmas and New Year festivities two weeks earlier meant fitness was hard to maintain for players.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Football Union chief executive Mike Rogers said the union was delighted the sevens tournament would remain in the Bay.

The Tauranga City Council will support the event.

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