Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

NZ Wasps set to sting at Central Coast Sevens

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ICONIC BRAND: The NZ Wasps team based in Bay of Plenty will contest the Central Coast Sevens tournament in Australia. Photo/Supplied
ICONIC BRAND: The NZ Wasps team based in Bay of Plenty will contest the Central Coast Sevens tournament in Australia. Photo/Supplied

Many seasons back, long before the thought of making rugby a professional code like its great rival rugby league, something special used to happen every Easter Weekend.

The annual NZ Wasps match against either the Auckland-based Barbarians or Waikato-based Harlequins was played in Rotorua to signal the start of the rugby season.

Back then there was a clear differentiation between the summer and winter seasons, with sevens rugby also yet to be established.

Playing cricket, swimming at the beach or a summer haymaking filled the gap before the rugby boots had to be put on again.

Despite the radical changes to the rugby landscape since those heady days in the 1960s and 1970s in particular, the NZ Wasps Club has continued to play a key role in the Bay of Plenty.

Founded in 1962, the club has its headquarters at Rotorua International Stadium where more than 50 years of memorabilia is on display for members and visitors to enjoy before and after every Steamers game.

The club has been active in supporting Tai Mitchell rugby, the Bay of Plenty Academy and sevens rugby in recent years.

Two NZ Wasps women's sevens teams will contest the 2016 UON Central Coast Sevens Kinesio Cup to be held north of Sydney on October 22-23.

It is the premier Australian sevens event outside the World Series and will be the third consecutive appearance for the NZ Wasps senior women's team, with an under-17 side competing in the Youth section this year.

Defending their title next month will be world and Olympic champions the Aussie Pearls.
Former New Zealand Black Ferns captain and Bay of Plenty coach Victoria Grant will coach the NZ Wasps team.

"The NZ Wasps women's programme was established to provide an opportunity for talented female athletes from across New Zealand to showcase their skills against some of the world's best teams," NZ Wasps head of rugby, David Mays, said.

"The UON Central Coast Sevens provides a fantastic opportunity for them to do this.

"Seven NZ Wasps athletes have gone on to be selected for the national women's sevens team and earned themselves full-time contracts, something we are proud to develop as an amateur organisation."

Central Coast Sevens tournament director Craig Morgan welcomes the return of the NZ Wasps.

"We know the management team and players rate the tournament very highly and they have continually featured a very strong outfit with a great attitude.

"We anticipate another youthful and very powerful side that will be in trophy contention."

Mays said he was looking forward to the continued association with the Central Coast Sevens "and the local Kiwi whanau who provide an awesome hospitality to our teams".

"The NZ Wasps women and under-17 teams can't wait to experience what always proves to be an awesome sevens rugby experience at the Central Coast Sevens.

"We would like to personally thank club captain Doug Marra and former president Jim Rackham for their continued support to the ladies' development wearing the NZ Wasps banner."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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