The tremendous thunderstorms the previous night were a distant memory when the TECT National Sevens kicked off in the Tauranga Domain under a blazing sun today.

The first day of the two-day tournament saw 28 men's and women's teams from around the country play more than 40 matches across two fields, with the finals to be battled out tomorrow.

The tournament has been running since 1975 and has been held in Rotorua for the past four years. This was the first time the tournament had been brought to Tauranga.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union spokeswoman Amanda Thompson said it was fantastic to host the tournament on home turf and estimated that a thousand people were out and about at the event.

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The games were largely unaffected by the stormy weather that hit Friday night, apart from a "few little marquees that went for a walkabout".

She called the play "fantastic" with dynamic game strategies and was proud to work with the rugby community to hold the event.

Terry Hurdle, also known as Tezza, had a ball at the tournament, where he was manning the changing room tunnel and directing players on to the field.

The 76-year-old has been active in the Bay of Plenty Rugby union since 1973. He loved it so much he took up voluntary work in 1990.

"I love rugby, it's my life."

Terry Hurdle was all smiles at the tournament on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner
Terry Hurdle was all smiles at the tournament on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner

The game of rugby has changed immensely during his time - the game was "quicker, harder, faster" and there were certainly no women's teams playing back then.

He praised the organisation - the way the event in Tauranga Domain was laid out made the crowd much closer together and made the atmosphere feel more vibrant.

If all went well, he was confident the event would nurture the rugby community in Tauranga, along with the region's reputation as a place to see quality matches.

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In the crowd were Mike Glen and Dave Mates, two friends who had travelled up from Canterbury to watch Glen's son play and to enjoy the weekend.

"It's a brilliant day and the rugby is fantastic," Glen said.

Tauranga's Turi Ngatai also sat in the grandstand and watched his son Will Ngatai play for Bay of Plenty.

"The weather makes the day," he said.

"People are having fun and relaxing ... the place smells of entertainment."

Ngatai said it was great the game was being broadcast on television as it put Tauranga on the map and he predicted big crowds for the finals tomorrow.

"I'm proud to be from Tauranga."

It was the first time BOP Rugby Union judicial committee member Kerry Beach had attended a national sevens tournament and he was not disappointed.

The Mount Maunganui resident thought the event was well organised and displayed the great talent on offer, from both the women and men's teams.

Tony Bullot, 850 Cameron Motel owner-operator, said the weekend had proved to be busy, with a "couple" of people staying at the accommodation to see the game.