The Rangataua Sports and Cultural Club in Tauranga is hosting the annual New Zealand Club Sevens tournament this Saturday.
Twelve of New Zealand’s leading clubs will descend on Te Ariki Park for the one-day tournament to decide the winner of the Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield Cup (pictured above, source Google), which was first awarded in 1951 and is the official New Zealand Club Sevens Championship.
It’s an invitational tournament, and three Wellington clubs have been invited in 2015 – recent Wellington Sevens American Ambassador’s champions Hutt Old Boys Marist, runners-up Wainuiomata and last year’s Wellington winners and National semi-finalists the Upper Hutt Rams.
As is tradition, the winners of this tournament earn the right to host the tournament the following year, so there’s a fair chance that one of the three Wellington raiders will take this year’s title and that the tournament will be played in the Hutt next year.
As last weekend’s New Zealand Marist tournament highlighted, these Sevens tournaments are super-competitive, anything can happen on the day and several of the country’s leading clubs are on show.
The Upper Hutt Rams will be captained by Wellington Sevens captain Hayden Schrijvers, but will be missing Murphy Taramai (New Zealand) and Kayne Hammington (Chiefs Development team). They were beaten in last year’s Cup semi-finals by eventual winners Rangataua so will know what to expect in this tournament.
Wainuiomata will be led by player-coach Uale Mai, who played 79 World Rugby Sevens tournaments for Samoa and includes several well-known players that helped their fifteens side reach the Jubilee Cup final last year, Wellington players Marvin Karawana and Tau Mamea amongst them.
Lise Soloa captains the The Hutt Old Boys Marist Eagles side that includes Wellington Sevens players Sheridan Rangihuna and Tomasi Alosio, as well as Hurricanes Training squad member Ope Peleseuma and leading fifteens try-scorer in 2014, Chase Tiatia.
Host club Rangataua, who are coached by former Hurricanes flanker and New Zealand Sevens representative Matua Parkinson, beat the Upper Hutt Rams in last year’s final, which was played in Pakuranga in Auckland. Home ground advantage and a dedicated Sevens programme will make Rangataua hard to beat this year.
Rangataua are coming off a thrilling last-gasp 28-26 win over Whakarewarewa in the final of the annual Te Puna 10s tournament in the Bay of Plenty last Saturday.
The two Auckland clubs competing this year are Ponsonby and Manukau Rovers, both of whom should be leading contenders. The Manukau Rovers defeated Ponsonby 26-22 in the final of the Auckland Club Sevens late last year, after both teams had blown away their opposition in their respective Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals. The Rovers and the Ponies contributed five players between them to Auckland’s National Sevens squad in January, but at least one them, New Zealand’s Reiko Ioane (Ponsonby), won’t be playing on Saturday.
Being one of the best clubs in the country at present, Waikato champions Hamilton Marist had a disappointing New Zealand Marist tournament, losing to Hutt Old Boys Marist in the Cup quarterfinals and then losing to Nelson Marist in the Plate final. Hamilton won’t be down for long and promise to be strong on Saturday. They too will be down two internationals, Joe Webber (New Zealand) and Puka Malo (Samoa).
Counties Manukau champions Ardmore Marist were defeated by winners North Harbour at the Cup semi-final stage of last weekend’s Marist tournament, impressing with their pace out wide.
The three Bay of Plenty clubs taking part are hosts Rangataua, Bay of Plenty club Sevens champions Mt. Maunganui and runners-up Te Puna.
Manawatu team Kia Toa – featuring Tawa and former New Zealand speedster George Tilsley – were pipped in extra time by College Old Boys in the Manawatu Sevens tournament in November. College Old Boys couldn’t make this tournament, so Kia Toa will be flying the flag for Turbos country on Saturday.
The Awanui club from the far north is the other club entered in the tournament, with no teams from the South Island this year. Jone Macilai, who cut through the Wellington Lions in their ITM clash last year, is their star player but has a contract with the Crusaders so is expected to be missing.
The tournament has a unique aspect in that teams will be playing for trophies of a military flavour – the championship finalists will play for both the Middlesex Cup and the Bosnian AK 74 Bayonet.
This tournament has a rich history. It has been going since 1951, when it was first held in Dunedin and won by local club Zingari-Richmond. It fell away in the 1990s and wasn’t contested for a decade up to its revival in 2006.
Recent winners have been (not played for in 2012):
2006 Green Island (Dunedin)
2007 Green Island (Dunedin)
2008 Alhambra-Union (Dunedin)
2009 Alhambra-Union (Dunedin)
2010 Otago University (Dunedin)
2011 Burnham (Canterbury)
2013 Pakuranga (Auckland)
2014 Rangataua (Bay of Plenty)
In over 60 years of competition, it has been held by 24 individual winners – seven from the North Island and 17 from the South Island. It had been held by South Island clubs continuously for more than three decades before Pakuranga’s win in 2013.
“The only victory by a Wellington club was by Petone in 1973.”
The 12 teams for the 2015 tournament will be split into three pools of four, commencing at 10:00 am. The Middlesex Cup final is scheduled for 6.30 pm.
Wellington teams squad lists for Saturday:
Hutt Old Boys Marist
Lise Soloa (captain) ,Sala Soloa ,James Kusel ,Blake McGregor ,Francis Tanuvasa ,Chase Tiatia ,Fred Soloa ,Site Timu ,Ope Peleseuma ,Tomasi Alosio (vc) , Sheridan Rangihuna ,Bernard Iose Nickel
Upper Hutt Rams:
Hayden Schrijvers (c) ,Sam Wasley ,Tupeni Kamakorewa ,Visesio Luamanu ,Bronson Orr ,Jordon Simpson-Hefft ,Isireli Baleitavuki ,Josh Hunt ,Eli Hunt ,Richard Wasley ,Joyner Key ,Joel Stewart
Uale Mai ,Greg Lealofi ,Marvin Karawana ,John Monu ,Eden Monu ,Matty Jacobs ,Erich Tuisila ,Dion Lealofi ,Tau Mamea ,Josh Robertson-Weepu ,Friedrich Keil ,Teru Time , Bevan Clark
One player to be omitted from starting line-up
Teams and Pools:
Pool A: Rangataua, Kia Toa, Wainuiomata
Pool B: Mt Maunganui, Ardmore Marist, Awanui
Pool C: Te Puna, Hutt Old Boys Marist, Manukau Rovers
Pool D: Hamilton Marist, Ponsonby, Upper Hutt Rams
10.00 am: Rangataua v Kia Toa
10.20 am: Mt Maunganui v Ardmore Marist
10.40 am: Te Puna v Hutt Old Boys Marist
11.00 am: Hamilton Marist v Ponsonby
11.20 am: Wainuiomata v Kia Toa
11.40 am: Awanui v Ardmore Marist
12.00 pm: Manukau Rovers v Hutt Old Boys Marist
12.20 pm: Upper Hutt Rams v Ponsonby
12.40 pm: Rangataua v Wainuiomata
1.00 pm: Mt Maunganui v Awanui
1.20 pm: Te Puna v Manukau Rovers
1.40 pm: Hamilton Marist v Upper Hutt Rams
2.10 pm: Bowl Semi-final 1
2.30 pm: Bowl Semi-final 2
2.50 pm: Cup quarterfinal 1
3.10 pm: Cup quarterfinal 2
3.30 pm: Cup quarterfinal 3
3.50 pm: Cup quarterfinal 4
4.20 pm: Plate semi-final 1
4.40 pm: Plate semi-final 2
5.00 pm: Cup semi-final 1
5.20 pm: Cup semi-final 2
5.45 pm: Bowl Final
6.05 pm: Plate Final
6.30 pm: Cup Final
Sevens Rugby | 12 February 2015 | Steven White