The leaders of 28 international sevens teams gathered in one of Hamilton's most unusual attractions on Wednesday for the annual HSBC New Zealand Sevens captains' photo.

All Blacks Sevens co-captain Tim Mikkelson and Black Ferns Sevens skipper Sarah Hirini took centre stage as players from around the world were given the first glimpse of a Surrealist Garden that dwarfed its rugby guests.

The Surrealist Garden - part of Hamilton Gardens - is set to open to the public in early February.

"It's always special to play in New Zealand and you get a real sense of pride to be able to share a little bit of your hometown with the other players," Mikkelson said.


"The Hamilton Gardens are so well known in the Waikato region and a pretty cool way to showcase the city of Hamilton."

Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, the Surrealist Garden provided a bizarre backdrop featuring a giant-sized door and wheelbarrow as well as twisted trees with moving mechanical branches.

But the venue wasn't the only reason the 2020 photoshoot was like no other in the history of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens, which will be played at FMG Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

For the first time, 12 women's players joined 16 men's players for the official tournament captains' photo as the event prepared for its first fully integrated tournament.

"It's really special to have the men's and women's tournaments played together for the first time," Hirini said.

"It's amazing to have 28 captains gathered for the photo and everyone can't wait to get out on the field on the weekend."

Last year Troy, Stuart and Evan from Christchurch came to the Sevens dressed as Shrimps, but were concerned about becoming fried in the heat. Photo / Tom Rowland
Last year Troy, Stuart and Evan from Christchurch came to the Sevens dressed as Shrimps, but were concerned about becoming fried in the heat. Photo / Tom Rowland

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate was on hand to officially welcome the captains to her city and wished them well for a weekend that will see fans treated to 60 games of sevens played over two days.

"We are thrilled to have the tournament back in Hamilton for what we know will be a fabulous weekend of sport and entertainment. We're looking forward to it," Southgate said.


The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens both head into the tournament as the respective leaders of the men's and women's HSBC World Sevens Series ladders.

Fiji, the defending champions of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens have enjoyed strong support in Hamilton for the past two years.

Road closures

During the HSBC Sevens this weekend road closures are in place on Tristram St (from Liverpool St to Abbotsford St), 6am-10.30pm on both match days, and on Mill St (from Willoughby St to Norton Rd) and Seddon Rd (from Mill St to Goldsmith St), 7am-10.30am on both match days.

Mobility Parking has been moved to Willoughby St from Seddon Rd for the duration of the tournament.

There is also a temporary alcohol ban in place outside the stadium which essentially means the existing ban on consuming alcohol in public areas between 10pm and 6am is extended to 24 hours for Saturday and Sunday on those streets.

Signs and maps detailing the extended liquor ban area have been in place on streets around FMG Stadium Waikato in recent weeks.