Sevens potential is enormous

By Joseph Aldridge

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers wants to establish the Bay of Plenty as the international home of sevens rugby development to bring significant economic benefits to the region.

The rugby union launched a strategy to establish the region as the leading training, performance and education provider for sevens rugby together with Bay of Connections.

The plan has been incorporated as part of the Bay of Connections regional economic development strategy.

With the inclusion of sevens in the Rio 2016 Olympics, the game had experienced significant growth over the past five years, Mr Rogers said.

"As a result, we have seen significant growth in the game, from new players, supporters and sponsors alike. New Zealand is considered internationally to have set the performance benchmark, and there is a high level of interest in our expertise and programmes."

The Bay could already claim to be the home of sevens in New Zealand because both of the national team coaches lived in the Western Bay and their teams regularly train in the region in the build up to major tournaments.

Also the union has secured the right to host the national sevens tournament in Rotorua for the next two years.

The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union intends to market the region as the international home of sevens rugby development by partnering with tertiary education providers, tourism operators, councils and local businesses.

The strategy would make use of the region's existing infrastructure to offer hosting and training programmes for international teams and individuals complete with education and tourism tie-ins.

The union would look at growing existing tournaments and developing new events, Mr Rogers said. "We can provide the whole package - a one-stop shop for all sevens-related activity. We have the human resources and local expertise, we have the existing infrastructure that would be required and a history of hosting visitors and successful events."

The International Rugby Board plans to invest $270 million in sevens development programmes over the next four years and the global game is expected to generate more than $90 million a year within 10 years.

Mr Rogers said the union did not yet have an estimate of the future value of sevens to the Bay of Plenty, but he believed the sport offered "extensive economic development opportunities".

Bay of Connections Management Group chair Fiona McTavish said the sevens strategy was an exciting addition to the Bay's economic portfolio.

"Many people might just think of sevens rugby as an entertaining sporting occasion, and it certainly is that, but it has the potential to offer much more than this for our economy," she said.

"Sevens rugby presents a wide range of opportunities, particularly in the areas of tourism and education, with a wider economic benefit as a result of that."

7 key focus areas of sevens strategyTournaments and events

  • International standard facilities

  • High performance facilities and programmes

  • Sevens educational hub

  • Recreational and team-building hosting programmes

  • International programme development

  • Funding development

- Bay of Plenty Times

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