NZRU awards national even to city for Olympics year
The National Sevens competition will stay put in Rotorua for at least one more year, following a review by the New Zealand Rugby Union.
The Bayleys National Sevens tournament was held at the Rotorua International Stadium in January, attracting thousands of spectators and the best provincial teams in the country.
The huge sevens festival moved from Queenstown to Rotorua in 2014 after the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union won a two-year bid to host it here.
Following a review, the New Zealand Rugby Union made a decision last week to keep the event in Rotorua for another year, in 2016.
BOPRU chief executive Mike Rogers said that was great news for the region.
"It highlights the confidence that the New Zealand Rugby Union has in the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and Rotorua community in hosting this high-profile event," he said.
Rogers said the new contract was for one year.
"It is just for one year then we will work through a review after the event, which is pretty typical," he said. "From our point of view our goal is to hold on to it for a long time but we understand the rationale behind a one-year contract."
He said while spectator numbers were up this year compared with last year, and the feedback from teams was good, there was still plenty of room to grow the event in Rotorua.
He said the Rotorua and Bay of Plenty community needed to continue to take ownership of the event to keep it in the Bay.
"Realistically, having it for one more year keeps us on our toes ... we need to show New Zealand that we want to hold on to it."
Dates for the 2016 event are yet to be set but Rogers said it would likely be held around January again.
Next year will also mark the first year sevens will feature at the Olympic Games. Rogers said time will tell whether that will translate to more interest around the National Sevens.
"There is already a lot of interest around high-profile players wanting to put their hand up to play at the Olympics, and we may see some of them feature at the National Sevens next year."
The competition features the best provincial sevens teams in the country. This year, in Rotorua, the top 16 men's teams and top 10 women's teams battled it out for national titles over two days, with Waikato winning the men's title and Auckland winning the women's title.
Rogers said a big thank you to those sponsors who helped make the National Sevens a success this year in Rotorua including major sponsors the New Zealand Community Trust.
Rotorua's Events and Venues general manager Peter McLeod said it was a great result for the city to have the event returning.
"It's particularly pleasing that we have been re-allocated the event without it even going out to competing bids from other regions," he said.
"There were significant lessons we took from the first year that were applied to the 2015 event and we're confident Rotorua will step up again in delivering a quality tournament in 2016.
"It certainly adds to Rotorua's vibrancy over the holiday period and offers great family entertainment for our visitors and our locals."