Today sees the first of what it is hoped will be an annual women's sevens tournament.

The inaugural Tauranga Sports Women's Rugby Sevens Tournament is set to place at Arataki Park.

''Currently in the Bay of Plenty there hasn't been the opportunity for a women's sevens season, with just the one tournament available for women's teams to compete in unless players are selected for representative teams,'' said Bay of Plenty women's rugby development officer Hayley Kerrison.

''Growing the women's game in the Bay of Plenty means providing quality opportunities for our ladies to play which is exactly what this tournament is.


''Promoting the women's game at club level has encouraged new players to the game, some of which will be playing in their first sevens tournament.''

Tournament co-ordinator Tom Morrison, Sport Bay of Plenty's community sport co-ordinator, said the response to the tournament had been better than expected.

''We thought we would get between eight and 10 teams initially, then grow it in the next couple of years. We probably had interest from over 20 clubs and in hindsight, maybe the time of year was not quite right. If we'd held it a month later, maybe we'd have got about 20 teams, but it was starting to conflict with some regional club sevens.''

In the end, 14 teams entered the competition, giving two pools of four and two of three, with crossover games between the two smaller pools.

''All of the Bay teams will be quite strong,'' said Morrison. ''When you look at Rangataua, Rotoiti, Rangiuru, all of them have had quite strong 15s seasons. The Hamilton teams will be exceptionally strong, and from what we've been told, they will be bringing some of their New Zealand sevens players over, so the calibre of player on show will be quite high.''

For the Bay of Plenty players, there was a chance to impress in front of selectors, including women's sevens coach Victoria Grant.

The details
Tauranga Sports Women's Rugby Sevens Tournament, 9.30am. Final 5.05pm.
Teams taking part: Rangataua, Rangiuru, Rotoiti, Tauranga Sports, Te Puke Sports,
Te Whanau Apanui, Waimana A, Waimana B, Hastings, Navy (North Harbour), Stratford,
Hamilton Marist, Hamilton Old Boys, Waikato University.