I thought in this week’s blog it would be a good idea to let you know where I will be taking in my 7s this coming year. At the same time it can hopefully give you an idea of where you should be heading to watch the 7s yourself. Having said that, I had originally set out to give you the run down for the full 12 months but as with much of my writing I got a little carried away so the blog is now in four parts with the 2nd installment due next week.
I thought in this week’s blog it would be a good idea to let you know where I will be taking in my 7s this coming year. At the same time it can hopefully give you an idea of where you should be heading to watch the 7s yourself.
Having said that, I had originally set out to give you the run down for the full 12 months but as with much of my writing I got a little carried away. So the blog is now in four parts with the second installment due next week.
2010 is shaping up to be the greatest year for our sport. With Olympic inclusion now sealed, it is down to you the players and spectators from around the world to enjoy some of the best tournaments each nation has to offer.
For each month of the year, I have used my experiences and made some calls so that I can recommend some tournaments that you must try to get to during 2010.
Major prizes in the Southern Hemisphere
'The World's Hottest 7s' - held in Darwin, Australia. The tag line is not propaganda, this tournament really is a scorcher and the teams compete for a $65,000 prize fund. Some of the best sides and players in the world will feature in the lead up to the 3rd and 4th legs of the World Series.
The tournament is not just for the elite though with club and social sides competing across the weekend and enjoying the hospitality of the Territorians. Look out for the South Sea Drifters and Samurai once again as they compete for the big prize.
New Zealand Nationals, Queenstown - The provincial sides from across New Zealand do battle for the title of National Champion. North Harbour currently holds the title but major contenders Wellington and Canterbury will be looking to take back the prize.
In the past this tournament was seen as trials for the National team leading into the Hong Kong Sevens. Although the NZ squad for this year’s World Series was selected a while ago, don't be surprised to see some of Tietjens’ men having a run out before heading onto the Cake Tin of Wellington a few weeks later.
IRB World Series returns
IRB Wellington Sevens (NZI Sevens) - England defend their title in the Cake Tin and will be looking for the PA not to be playing the tune of ‘Coronation Street’, as they do whenever the English lose! The dramatic final last year is one of the memories of the Series last year. The party atmosphere in Wellington is like no other as the whole town catches 7s fever for 2 days.
With the Marist 7s taking place at the same time, Wellington becomes the centre of the rugby universe for the weekend. England play Wales on the same weekend in the 6 Nations and there is no comparison as the Sevens carnival in Wellington is something that is not to be missed.
IRB USA Sevens - Las Vegas plays host to the USA Sevens for the first time and the City of Sin offers something for players, spectators and managers alike. With everyone involved staying on the strip, the USA and Vegas specifically will offer just about everything that can be conceived as needed whilst taking in the 7s.
The Sam Boyd stadium recently hosted the Las Vegas Bowl in College Football and will next be used for the USA 7s. It is sure to offer a different experience from the other venues of the World Series.
The stadium is a short bus trip from the strip meaning that all participants; players and spectators alike can be back on the with 30 minutes and taking advantage of the casinos, nightclubs, bars, shows the list goes on.
Our friends at UR7s are putting on tours for invitational and social teams wanting to take part in the LVI alongside the USA Sevens. My advice is take a look, find the money, call the lads and get on a plane because Vegas...well... is Vegas.
Floods of kids hit South West London
Rosslyn Park School Sevens – The largest participation 7s tournament in the world. Many of the stars of today’s game (and yesterdays) started their sevens adventure just off the A3 on Wimbledon Common and you can be sure that the players of tomorrow will be there in March.
With over 5000 players taking part over the aptly named 'rugby week' there is a feeling of real honesty about the tournament.
It does not quite have the glamorous location or the glitz and glamour of some of the new tournaments but watching the glory and the tears of school kids as they take to the field in one of the world’s most traditional tournaments will always have great value in my 7s calendar.
Manila Tens - At completely the opposite end of the spectrum from National Schools is that of the Manila 10s. It’s often used by many of the top 10s teams as a warm up for the Hong Kong 10s which is played alongside the world famous 7s. The Manila 10s is played at the Nomads Sports club in the Philippines with many locasl from Asia taking on touring sides from the Southern and Northern Hemispheres.
Following the theme of honesty for March this is a tournament that has a real genuine Asian feel about it, a little unlike its more famous counterparts Singapore and Hong Kong. Whereas the latter have many 'know-all' expatriates from the British Isles enjoying themselves for the weekend without their wives, Manila gives you a real sense of how the modified versions of the game are really growing in the Far East.
With players and spectators enjoying the beauty of the game of rugby it’s a joy to sit on the south bank with a local beer watching the tournament unfold.
Honourable mention - If honesty is not what you look for in a tournament, and you haven’t had your fill of IRB Sevens in February, then get yourself to the world famous Hong Kong Sevens (26th-28th March) where the original world sevens tournament still wows and dazzles all who enter the stadium. Experience the infamous South Stand with all the glory of the 7s.