Uodate Friday night: Three teams have pulled out of the Colts division, meaning a re-working of the draw. Colts draw TBC on Saturday morning.
The 2015 club rugby season returns to where it began, with the official Wellington club rugby Sevens rugby championship, the American Ambassador’s tournament, being played at Trentham Memorial Park tomorrow.
The Premier Fifteens competition kicked off at TMP in hot, dusty conditions back in March. A fine day is forecast for Saturday, and the rugby promises to be sweltering by mid-afternoon as Wellington’s leading clubs and players start battling it out in the crossover round across Men’s, Women’s and Colts divisions.
A record 35 teams have entered this year, up from 32 last year as the shorter form of the sport continues to grow.
All of Wellington’s 14 Premier Men’s clubs and eight of nine 2015 Women’s clubs are entered, including Poneke (Men’s) and Old Boys University and Northern United and a Petone team (Women’s) who weren’t represented at last weekend’s WRFU Open Invitational warm-up tournament.
In the Colts division, St Pat’s Town and St Pat’s Silverstream, who are representing Wellington at next month’s national Condor 7s in Auckland, will both line up squads with 10 other sides in what’s expected to be a competitive field. Scots College won this division last year.
The St Pat’s Town for Saturday’s tournament won’t be the school’s official Condors team, rather a Colts team comprising some of their squad, some other development players and a handful of old boys.
In winning last weekend’s Open tournament at Porirua Park, the Upper Hutt Rams Men’s side and the Oriental-Rongotai Women’s team will both start as warm favourites.
However, the Rams will be without three of their leading players on Saturday, with Murphy Taramai (head knock) and Hayden Schrijvers (leg) both side-lined with injury and Jordan Simpson-Hefft pulled from this tournament by Sir Gordon Tietjens as he has been called into an All Blacks Sevens camp the following weekend after impressing the master coach in Australia a fortnight ago.
Nipping at their heels will be defending American Ambassador’s champions and last week’s beaten Open tournament finalists Hutt Old Boys Marist, defending National champions Wainuiomata and a group of several clubs that could all make a run at the title if they fire on the day. Old Boys University, Avalon, Tawa and Johnsonville all impressed last week, while Oriental-Rongotai could be a dangerous prospect if they have the services of some players such as Ambrose Curtis, Malo Tuitama and others and MSP could have a couple of key players this week too such as Issac O’Connor so should be in the mix. Ories and MSP are grouped in a pool of death with HOBM and Paremata-Plimmerton.
HOBM welcome Wellington players Sheridan Rangihuna and Lise Soloa to their line-up.Rangihuna and captain Tomasi Alosio are player-coaches of the Eagles, while Lise will join his cousins Fereti and Sala in the squad. Another player to watch out for will be Horowhenua-Kapiti player and 15s fullback Brandyn Laursen.
Poneke were absent last week, but they will led by Wellington Lions and Samoa 7s player Greg Foe and Wellington 7s player and Premier captain Joseph Scheres. Other Premier players playing for Poneke include Pakai Turia and Samoa Momoemausu.
At stake for the Men’s teams is one of two places in the National Middlesex Sevens field in the New Year, in the tournament being hosted by Wainuiomata.
Oriental-Rongotai will be defending the Eleanor Roosevelt Cup that they won last year in dramatic circumstances when Lizzie Goulden streaked clear to score a golden point try after Ories and Norths were locked up at 17-17.
Goulden is expected to be back for Ories after playing in the Women’s Sevens series in Taupo last weekend, while Amanda Rasch could also be a starter after she injured her leg playing for the Wellington Pride several weeks ago.
Ories beat Wainuiomata in last week’s Open Sevens final. The latter were competitive in the contact but couldn’t match Ories’ pace and flair our wide.
The OBU women’s team will be led by in-form Wellington Pride centre Georgia Daals, while Norths should have Aimee Sutorius in their team and Avalon should be shored up by Kat Whata-Simpkins who would add plenty to their attack.
The rugby will be played across three fields, with the Colts on Field One, the Men’s on Field Two and the Women’s on Field Three.
Both the Women’s and the Colts draws comprise pools of three teams and the Men’s section is made up of two pools of the four teams and two of three teams.
Pool play runs from 9.00 am until approximately 1.49 pm when the crossover matches begin in the Women’s section, 2.23pm in the Colts and 2.57pm in the Men’s. The Women’s Cup final is at 3.48pm, the Colts Cup final is at 4.39pm and the Men’s Cup final is at 5.13pm.
The original American Ambassador’s Trophy was presented in 1967 by John F Henning, US Ambassador to New Zealand in the 1960s. From 1967 until 1998 this tournament was held at Trentham Memorial Park on a Sunday in February as a precursor to the Regional Sevens held in Feilding in mid-March, followed by the Sevens Nationals.
From 1999- 2012 this became a series of typically three tournaments with points awarded in each round an overall winner declared at the end. This is the third year of it being a standalone one-day tournament, with Upper Hutt and Hutt Old Boys Marist the Men’s winners over the past two years.
What:†WRFU American Ambassador’s Sevens tournament†
Where:†Trentham Memorial Park
When: Saturday 7 November, all day
Grades:†Men’s, Women’s and Colts
Pool E:†Hutt Old Boys Marist, Oriental-Rongotai, Marist St Pat’s, Paremata-Plimmerton
Pool F:† Avalon, Tawa, Poneke
Pool G:†Upper Hutt Rams, Johnsonville, Petone, Wellington
Pool H: Northern United, Wainuiomata, Old Boys University
Pool I: Oriental-Rongotai, Avalon, Poneke
Pool J: Northern United, Marist St Pat’s, Petone
Pool K: Wainuiomata, Hutt Old Boys Marist, Old Boys University
Pool A: Oriental-Rongotai, Tawa, St Pat’s Town
Pool B: Marist St Pat’s, Johnsonville, St Pat’s Silverstream
Pool C: Wellington, Northern United, Upper Hutt Rams
Pool D: Hutt Old Boys Marist, Avalon, Poneke
Colts pool play between 9.00 am – 1.49pm
Men’s pool play between 9.00 am – 2.40pm
Women’s pool play between 9.00am – 11.50am
Colts Cup semi-finals at 3.31pm and 3.48pm
Men’s Bowl semi-finals at 2.57pm and 3.14pm
Men’s Plate semi-finals at 3.31pm and 3.48pm
Women’s Cup semi-finals at 2.23pm and 2.40pm
Men’s Cup semi-finals at 4.05pm and 4.22pm
Colts Bowl Final at 4.05pm
Colts Plate Final at 4.22pm
Colts Cup Final at 4.39pm
Women’s Cup Final at 3.48pm
Men’s Bowl Final at 4.39pm
Men’s Plate Final at 4.56pm
Men’s Cup Final at 5.13pm