The third and final leg of the 2012 American Ambassador's Sevens series is at Porirua Park on Saturday and is part of another bumper afternoon of club and representative rugby in and around Wellington.
Points from the second American Ambassador's tournament at Maidstone Park a fortnight ago will be carried over into this leg of the series to decide the winner of the Men's and Colts divisions. With 24 points up for grabs for the winner of the Men's division and 12 for the Colts, there's much at stake for every team still.
The points tables after the Maidstone Park leg of the tournament is (note the first leg at the Polo Ground was cancelled and no points were awarded):
Men's (top 10): Upper Hutt 24, MSP 20, Tawa and Wests 16, Paremata-Plimmerton, Wainuiomata, Old Boys University and Oriental-Rongotai 12, Avalon 8 and Hutt Old Boys Marist 6
Colts (semi-finalists from the Maidstone Park leg): Old Boys University 12, Hutt Old Boys Marist 8, Petone and Poneke 4
The four Men's division pools for Saturday are:
Pool A: Upper Hutt, Ories, MSP 2, Petone
Pool B: HOBM 1, Tawa, Wainuiomata, HOBM 1, Poneke
Pool C: Norths, MSP 1, OBU, Avalon
Pool D: Wests Roosters, Paremata-Plimmerton, Wellington, HOBM 2
The two Colts division pools are:
Pool A: Upper Hutt 2, Old Boys University, Petone, Wainuiomata
Pool B:HOBM, Poneke, Norths, Upper Hutt 1
Pool play runs from 9.00am until just before 2.00pm. The first of the quarterfinals is scheduled for 2.06pm and the Men's Cup final is at 4.56pm. The presentation follows at 5.20pm.
Heading into this Saturday's third and final leg of the American Ambassador's Sevens, we caught up with leading Sevens administrator Pat Quin for a chat about his involvement in the growth of Sevens in Wellington.
What is your involvement with Sevens in Wellington?
I was the Wellington Sevens Managerbetween 1999-2001. In October 1999 Wellington was awarded the New Zealand leg of the IRB Sevens to be held February 2000. Coach Tony Meachen and I drew up a strategy to attract players to Sevens and of course to win the National title. The three year plan succeeded in the fourth year and we won the Nationals in 2002. I was the HR manager for the Wellington IRB Sevens under Tournament Director Nick Jordan for the first three years then Assistant to theTournament Director Steve Dunbar for about the next five years.
What was the biggest challenge in the early years?
The biggest challenge for the Club Sevens was getting buy-in from clubs to have an end of season tournament culminating in selection of the Wellington Team for the Nationals where Gordon Tietjens would select his team for the IRB International Sevens circuit.
In regard to the IRB Sevens- we were awarded the tournament in late October 1999 and had to be ready for kickoff in the first weekend of February 2000. None of us had any experience at this and to top it off Westpac Stadium wasn't yet open - we were to be the first rugby games there - so we had absolutely no familiarity with the facilities. Nick Jordan led the management group outstandingly and I managed to find 180 volunteers while Steve Dunbar, Lynette Grace, Tony Meachen, John Berryman, Peter Dale, Rodney Moore, Richard Boag and Steve Hirini comprised the rest of the hard-working, pioneering, visionary organising committee.
What are some of the highlights of being involved in Sevens in Wellington?
The National title Wellington won in 2002 under Tony Meachen and Dave Meaclem was a highlight because I had developed the strategy, gained buy-in from all the stakeholders and saw the improvement each year until success seemed inevitable. I brought Dave Meaclem into the management team in 2001 to ensure that the systems in place continued the following year - they did and we won. Scott Waldrom was the captain and I think Fa'atonuFili and Polonga Pedro are the only members of the team still playing.
As for the IRB Sevens I had the pleasure of working with a group of extremely talented and fearless people. Putting on exactly the event you see today without a hitch could not have been done in only three months without optimism (that it would be alright on the day!) talent and outstanding organising ability. After the first IRB Tournament in 2000 it took me about two months to get over it and settle back into work and family etc. It had been hugely exciting and successful. A group of us went to Hong Kong six weeks later to check on what was deemed to be the best Sevens tournament in the world and we felt Wellington had surpassed it on every measurement.
How important do you feel is the American Ambassador's Sevens Series?
The American Ambassador's Sevensis very important. Club rugby finishes for some in late July to accommodate representative rugby and leaves a huge gap in the year where there is nothing to do. The AA Sevens encourages players to keep training and fits with the ethic of camaraderie that rugby generates. There used to be a transition between Club, National and International Sevens that was lost when Queenstown were given the rights to hold the Nationals in January but the American Ambassador's Sevens has lots of entries and are enthusiastically attended as I saw at the Upper Hutt leg of the tournament is two weeks ago.
What are your thoughts on Sevens at the Olympics?
About time. Tony Meachen, Nick Jordan and I went to Beijing for the IRB Sevens in 2002 because it was being trialed there for inclusion in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Unfortunately Sevens missed the cut for Beijing 2008 but is of course included for Rio 2016.
The Wellington U20s play Hawke's Bay U20 in the final of the Hurricanes region U20 competition at FMG Stadium in Palmerston North at 12.00pm. Hawke's Bay won their previous clash 37-27 and Wellington are the defending champions, so this final could be a thriller.
The Wellington U18s play their last round Hurricanes region U18 competition match against Taranaki at Yarrow Stadium at 2.00pm. Wellington has already booked their place for the following weekend's Hurricanes U18 final, but will want to continue their strong form into this encounter.
In the other match of the Hurricanes U18 tournament, the Centurions play Manawatu U18 in Palmerston North at 12.00pm.
The Wellington Pride play the Canterbury Ewes at Christchurch at 1.00pm in their penultimate round-robin game of the women's NPC. Following last week's defeat to defending champions Auckland, the Pride must win this to stay in contention for the final. Canterbury are the current leaders.
The sixth and final round-robin RDO Cup match between the Wellington Maori and Wanganui B at Maidstone Park at 12.30pm is a virtual final.
In a friendly representative match at Evans Bay Park, the Wellington Development and Wellington Samoan teams square off at 1.00pm.
Representative fixtures in Wellington on Saturday:
There's an old saying in Wellington Rugby, that if there's a southerly on the way, it will arrive at kick-off, and depart at fulltime.
So it was in the Division 1 Don Broughton Shield Final played between Wellington A and Hawke's Bay at the Petone Recreation Ground, won by Wellington 29-0
Throughout the Tournament, Wellington's line was not crossed once, with the team scoring 117 points, and conceding only 9
In the final, Hawke's Bay started facing an ominous bank of cloud reaching over the ground from the south, before the rain began. By halftime, Wellington had scored two tries, and fumbled at least three others, but the visitors would have felt confident turning with the wind at their back.
That confidence was quickly replaced by scrambling defence, as both forwards and backs from Wellington punched repeated holes in the Junior Magpies defence. A further three tries were scored by Wellington before the final whistle, with the home team deserved winners.
In the earlier Division 2 Saracens Cup Final, played in calm but overcast conditions, Poverty Bay fought for a 17-12 win over the Wellington Development team. Both teams were guilty of not converting scoring opportunities which may have changed the outcome.
The boys from Gisborne had beaten Wellington Development earlier in the week in a "friendly" match, and this earlier victory would have given them the edge on the day. Poverty Bay's grit and determination were instrument in giving them the win against Wellington today, who to their credit never relented.
The Convener of Age Grade Selectors for the Hurricanes Region, David King said, “Our role there was to view and identify talent across the Hurricanes region to go to a one day camp in December run by New Zealand Rugby for the Hurricanes region.”
“The quality of players at this year’s tournament was of an extremely high level which is very exciting for the future of the Hurricanes region. To have such a strong pool of depth, from both the under 18 camp in July and this tournament at under 16 level, bodes well for the next generation of players coming through the development systems within the Hurricanes region.”
Wellington U16 A, 29 : Hawkes Bay 0Poverty Bay U16, 17 : Wellington U16 Development, 12