New Zealand National club championship attracts nationwide support

New Zealand National club championship attracts nationwide support

Sixteen clubs from around New Zealand will assemble at Burnham Army Camp this Saturday for the national club sevens championship. The Burnham Bulls, holders of the Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield Cup, are joined by clubs from Auckland, Wellington, Tasman, West Coast and Otago, as well as eight from Canterbury. It is traditional for the 61-year old trophy to be hosted by the previous winner and Burnham coach Chris Neill said they were thrilled to be part of the revival of the historic event.

Sixteen clubs from around New Zealand will assemble at Burnham Army Camp this Saturday for the national club sevens championship.

The Burnham Bulls, holders of the Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield Cup, are joined by clubs from Auckland, Wellington, Tasman, West Coast and Otago, as well as eight from Canterbury.

It is traditional for the 61-year old trophy to be hosted by the previous winner and Burnham coach Chris Neill said they were thrilled to be part of the revival of the historic event.

“Ever since we won the Middlesex Cup we have been keen to return the tournament to a true national championship so we are delighted to have Suburbs, Pakuranga, Upper Hutt, Central, Wanderers, Kiwi Rugby and Otago University travelling to Burnham,” he said. “We know the cost, logistics and commitment required at the grass roots level so we thank all 15 clubs for attending.”

The 16 teams, who were invited on the basis of results in their respective provincial championships over the summer, will also be playing for an invitation to the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens ‘champion of champions’ tournament in November 2013.

“The tournament has one other unique aspect in that teams will be playing for trophies of a military flavour,” continued Neill. “The championship finalists play for both the Middlesex Cup and the Bosnian AK 74 Bayonet so with so much to play for we are expecting a thrilling competition.

“Rugby sevens is known for its skill and flair and for its ability to throw new stars into the limelight, particularly now it is an Olympic sport, and there will be no exceptions this weekend”.

Burnham beat nine-time champions Otago University 36-26 in the most recent tournament in 2011, with three tries to Canterbury flyer Willie McGoon, and the two sides will line up alongside Lincoln University and Marist-Albion in Pool A.

Canterbury champions Sumner take on Prebbleton and visitors Upper Hutt and Central from Tasman in Pool B.

Local selection Samoan United join Canterbury University, Kiwi Rugby from across the Southern Alps and Auckland runners-up Pakuranga in Pool C while Suburbs, the Queen City champions, are favoured to progress from Pool D, which also features Sydenham, Covenant Brothers and Wanderers (Tasman).

The Middlesex Sevens has its origins in its English namesake.

The world-renowned Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham is one of the oldest rugby sevens tournaments in England, being first played in 1926 with Harlequins, captained by William Wavell Wakefield who later captained England, winning over St Mary’s Hospital..

In 1949, the Middlesex County RFU offered cups for a Rugby Sevens competition in the "Dominions or Colonies". Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield cups were accepted by New Zealand, Australia and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

The Cup was brought to New Zealand by the Manager of the 1950 Lions, L B (“Ginger”) Osborne, presented to the NZRU and competed for the first time in Dunedin in 1952.

Since then it has been held by 22 individual winners - five from the North Island and 17 from the South Island - including both famous and little-known clubs alike.

Between the years 1954 and 1978, the cup crossed Cook Strait ten times while it has been held by South Island clubs for the past 34 years.

Pool play commences at 11:00 at Coronation Park in Burnham while the final is scheduled for 6:20pm. Entry is free.

For further information www.middlesexsevens.co.nz

ENDS
Notes to Editors
• Pools for the Middlesex Sevens
Pool A
Burnham
Marist Albion
Otago University (Otago)
Lincoln University

Pool B
Sumner
Prebbleton
Central (Tasman)
Upper Hutt (Wellington)

Pool C
Samoan United
Canterbury University
Kiwi Rugby (West Coast)
Pakuranga (Auckland)

Pool D
Sydenham
Covenant Brothers
Suburbs (Auckland)
Wanderers (Tasman)

• Previous winners of the Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield Cup
2011 Burnham (Canterbury)
2010 Otago University
2009 Alhambra-Union (Dunedin)
2008 Alhambra-Union (Dunedin)
2007 Green Island (Dunedin)
2006 Green Island (Dunedin)
1996 Otago University
1992 Otago University
1990 Otago University
1989 Ohai-Nightcaps (Southland)
1988 Central Pirates (Southland)
1987 Otago University
1986 Clinton
1985 Clinton
1984 Otago University
1983 Otago University
1982 Otago University
1981 Dunedin
1980 Green Island (Dunedin)
1978 Zingari-Richmond (Dunedin)
1976 Hamilton Old Boys
1975 Otago University
1974 Clutha Valley
1973 Petone
1972 Clutha Valley
1971 Cromwell
1970 Technical OB (Ashburton)
1969 Technical OB (Ashburton)
1967 Taumarunui
1966 Taumarunui
1965 Putaruru Athletic
1964 Invercargill
1963 Pirates (Invercargill)
1961 Athletic (Taumarunui)
1960 Putaruru Athletic
1959 Taumarunui
1958 Auckland University
1957 Taumarunui
1956 Ranger F.C. (Millerton)
1955 Taumarunui
1954 Ardmore College
1953 Star (Invercargill)
1952 Star (Invercargill)