Joy as sevens shifts to Rotorua

By, Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Rotorua has won the right to host the national sevens tournament in 2014 and 2015, with the prestigious event leaving Queenstown for the first time in a decade.

It was a case of jubilation at the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union yesterday as news broke that the sevens tournament would be coming to Rotorua.

The New Zealand Rugby Union decided earlier this year to call for tenders for the event to ensure it catered for the future needs of players, fans, sponsors and broadcasters.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said they had been informed yesterday morning about their successful bid, after an NZRU meeting on Thursday.

"We are absolutely delighted," Rogers said. "It has been on our radar for about three or four years but it hasn't been available."

He said they had worked hard partnering with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua District Council to present a strong bid, choosing Rotorua as the home for the event.

"We considered both [Rotorua and Tauranga] because they both have strong attributes. But when we looked at the infrastructure it made us believe that Rotorua is the right place to hold it."

He said the best thing about Rotorua was the size and quality of Rotorua International Stadium, the facilities around the stadium, accommodation in Rotorua and the central location of the city.

Rogers said there were six or seven bids from provincial rugby unions, which turned into a shortlist of three - Queenstown, Taupo and Rotorua.

With sevens now in the Olympics, Rogers said it gave them a great opportunity to grow the game locally at grass roots level, for both men and women.

He said having the event in the home town of legendary sevens coach Gordon Tietjens' made the event quite iconic, but it was something they tried to down play in the bid.

"He is a fantastic ambassador for the sport and attended Rotorua Boys' High School. But we wanted to stand alone on our own strengths and attributes," Rogers said.

"I'm sure Gordon will be pleased and I think it's fitting it is back in Rotorua where he had such a strong grounding."

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement yesterday the change of venue would help grow the game in New Zealand.

"Sevens is rising in popularity across both the men's and women's games so we are very keen to make the most of this and Rotorua offers us the best opportunity to do that.

"We need greater capacity to cater for future expansion of the tournament both in terms of grounds and spectator facilities and Bay of Plenty provided a compelling package in that regard."

He said 2014 and 2015 were critical years in the build-up to sevens' debut on the Olympic stage in 2016.

"I would like to thank Queenstown's organising committee Sevens with Altitude for its outstanding efforts in hosting the tournament since 2003.

"We have really appreciated their energy and passion in reviving the event and turning it into an important part of the rugby calendar."

The 2013 national sevens tournament will still be in Queenstown on January 12 and 13.

It will be broadcast on Sky Sport.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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