Niue ready for poignant return to Wellington

Niue ready for poignant return to Wellington

The tiny pacific nation of Niue looks set to return to International Sevens action at next month's Wellington NZI according to the IRB. Niue have been absent from competition since 2006 following Cyclone Heta which had devastating consequences on the Island. They face stiff opposition in their group being drawn with hosts New Zealand, Australia, and Wales.

The tiny pacific nation of Niue looks set to return to International Sevens action at next months Wellington NZI according to the IRB.

Niue have been absent from competition since 2006 following Cyclone Heta which had devastating consequences on the Island. Heta, a category 5 cyclone, reached hurricane strength on New Year's Day 2004 and built up wind speeds of 250 kilometres per hour before tearing across the island of Niue, destroying the capital village Alofi amongst other communities.

Known as the ‘Rock of Polynesia’ Niue is island to the northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between other rugby hotbeds of Tonga, Samoa, and Cook Islands.

Since its independence in 1974, Niue has been self-governing in free association with New Zealand, and benefits from a close friendly and financial relationship with its larger neighbour. To prevent over-population most Niueans generally choose to live in Auckland, including many of their rugby players. The Wellington event therefore offers a perfect opportunity to showcase their own unique cultural identity, while at the same time offering gratitude to their country of residence.

“The team is delighted to be returning in 2009," said national Sevens coach Roderick Tagelagi.

"The support the team received last time was a major reason why our players enjoy playing in Wellington so much.”

Niue last featured in the Wellington tournament in February 2006 as part of the 2005/06 IRB Sevens World Series, giving France, Scotland and Tonga serious a serious run for their money. This year the Niueans face the daunting prospect of taking on hosts New Zealand in Pool B, as well as Australia and Wales.

“The draw looks to offer some great rugby action for fans and adds to the excitement in the build up to our 10th anniversary NZI Sevens," said NZI Sevens General Manager Steve Walters.

"We're also excited to welcome back Niue and I am sure the fans will support their return.”

Welcome back Niue!