Last year's Hawke's Bay 7s tournament was a wet one, but the forecast this weekend is fine and warm and the rugby should be hotter.
A total of 31 teams from several provinces throughout the lower North Island are set to descend on Waipukurau tomorrow for the 35th Paladin Sports Hawke’s Bay 7s tournament.
The tournament, hosted by the Central Rugby and Sports Club, features 15 Men’s, nine Colts and seven Women’s sides each vying to take home the spoils.
Napier Pirates will be back to defend to their Men’s title, but new champions are set to be crowned in 2018 in both the Colts and Women’s grade, with four-time Colts defending champions Petone from Wellington not participating and three-time winners Feilding Old Boys-Oroua from Manawatu missing from the Women’s line-up.
Nevertheless, the rugby promises to be as competitive as ever and the action lightning fast with a strong field assembled when the action kicks off at 10.00am at Central Park.
In the Men’s section, Hawke’s Bay clubs Napier Pirates, Tamatea (two teams), MAC, Napier Technical, Hastings Rugby & Sports, Otane, Havelock North and Central are joined by a group of outside raiders.
Most favoured amongst them will be Taranaki club sevens champions the Southern Sharks, making the trip east from their Hawera headquarters, while the KVT Flyers are a composite Wellington team and rural Wanganui side Ngamatapouri have been regular contenders at these tournaments for the past few years.
Local composite sides also in the mix in the Men’s competition are Hawke’s Bay KVT (out of the Hastings Rugby & Sport club and the Pacific Warriors and the Hawks (Central Hawke’s Bay teams).
The Women’s competition gets underway at 10.40am in one pool of four and one of three, and features five local clubs plus Wellington’s Petone and Manawatu school side Manukura who are preparing for their assault on the Sir Gordon Tietjens 7s tournament in Palmerston North at the start of March.
The Colts section is the last to get underway at 11.00am, with a mix of contenders. Local club Napier Old Boys Marist will be hoping to emulate the strong showing at last weekend’s National Club Sevens tournament of their senior men’s side that finished runners-up.
The NOBM Colts are joined by Hawke’s Bay club teams MAC, Taradale, Hastings Rugby & Sports and the Napier Pirates. School team Lindisfarne College, the Martinborough Colts from Wairarapa-Bush, the Upper Hutt Rams Colts from Wellington and Wanganui Metro join these teams.
The Men play for the Ian Baker Cup, the Colts for the Angus Cup and the Women for the Jiangsu Jersey.
Players of the Tournament are selected in each of the three competitions, with some well-known players having been acknowledged here in recent years, including Peniasi Tokacece (Men’s 2013), Tamati Samuels (Men’s 2014), Trinity Spooner Neera (Men’s 2015), Tiaan Falcon (Men’s 2016 and 2017), Brayden Iose (Colts 2016), Hayley Hutana (Women’s 2015), Selica Winiata (Women’s 2016), Kristina Sue (Women’s 2017) and Carlos Price (Colts 2017).
This tournament was first played for in 1984, with Hawke’s Bay club Taradale the inaugural men’s winners. The first non-Hawke’s Bay side to claim victory in the Men’s tournament was Tawa in 2007, with Feilding also winning in 2009. As well as Petone winning the Colts four years in succession, Wellington’s Avalon claimed the Women’s tournament in 2014 and a visiting Chinese side Jiangshu the year before in 2013.
2010: Havelock North
2011: Havelock North
2012: Havelock North
2013: Hastings Rugby & Sports
2014: Hastings Rugby & Sports
2015: Havelock North
2016: Napier Pirate
2017: Napier Pirate
Section 1: MAC, Hawke’s Bay KVT, Napier Pirates, Tamatea Black
Section 2: KVT Flyers, Napier Tech, Hastings R&S, Otane
Section 3: Tamatea Red, Pacific Warriors, Central Barbarians
Section 4: Havelock North, Southern, Hawks, Ngamatapouri,
Section 11: Martinborough, MAC, Napier Old Boys Marist
Section 12: Taradale Hastings R&S, Lindisfarne
Section 13: Upper Hutt Rams, Wanganui Metro, Napier Pirates
Section 21: Taradale, Clive, Manukura, MAC
Section 22: Central, Hastings R&S, Petone