Sevens in Queen­stown un­likely again

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT -

South­ern rugby fans are bang­ing the drums loudly for the na­tional pro­vin­cial sevens tour­na­ment to re­turn to Queen­stown but it seems in­creas­ingly un­likely they will get their wish. Queen­stown was the home of the na­tional sevens tour­na­ment for many years but the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union won the right to host this year’s tour­na­ment, which was held at the weekend, in Ro­torua. The event will also re­turn to Ro­torua in Jan­uary next year, with the prospect of it re­main­ing there af­ter that. A Face­book page that was started in Au­gust ti­tled ‘‘Bring the NZ 7’s back to Queen­stown’’, gained plenty of mo­men­tum at the weekend as peo­ple showed their dis­ap­point­ment that the tour­na­ment was be­ing staged in Ro­torua and not in Queen­stown. This week the page had close to 5000 likes and it had prompted a host of com­ments from peo­ple call­ing for the tour­na­ment to re­turn to the re­sort town. Many of the com­ments dur­ing the past cou­ple of days were prompted by a per­cep­tion that the Ro­torua pub­lic hadn’t sup­ported the tour­na­ment and there was a poor turnout. ‘‘Drop it, back to qtown where peo­ple em­brace it and ap­pre­ci­ate the event,’’ Sam Baker said. Jeremy Drake said: ‘‘Ro­torua got noth­ing on Queen­stown. Didn’t see any­one on TV there watch­ing it.’’ Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Rogers de­fended the crowd num­bers, say­ing while he was still yet to be pro­vided with ex­act num­bers for the weekend, he had been told that it stacked up well com­pared to Queen­stown. Be­cause the 25,000-ca­pac­ity sta­dium in Ro­torua was a much big­ger ground than in Queen­stown, and the fact the tour­na­ment was played across two grounds, there was a per­cep­tion from those watch­ing tele­vi­sion that the num­bers were smaller than those for Queen­stown. ‘‘The feed­back I got was that the crowd was greater than what there was in Queen­stown, but I don’t have ac­cu­rate num­bers yet,’’ he said. ‘‘The goal is to grow it and get more and more peo­ple along.’’ Rogers said with the tour­na­ment grow­ing to 26 teams across the men’s and women’s sec­tions, it now had to be played across two grounds to fit it all in over two days. SKY TV cov­ered only the games on the main ground whichirked some peo­ple who pre­vi­ously had been able to watch their men’s team play ev­ery game, live. The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union boss paid trib­ute to those in Queen­stown who re­vived the na­tional pro­vin­cial sevens tour­na­ment but he said host­ing the tour­na­ment was now lo­gis­ti­cally a much big­ger beast as the sport gets big­ger and big­ger be­cause of its Olympic sta­tus. ‘‘You’re al­most dou­bling the event – in terms of 16 teams you can do that on one field quite eas­ily and, in terms of tents and ac­com­mo­da­tion, I guess it makes it a lot smoother op­er­a­tion. ‘‘But when you’ve 26 teams to cater for, it be­comes very big. The num­ber of of­fi­cials grows, the num­ber of vol­un­teers grows; we need 26 li­ai­son of­fi­cers where be­fore you only needed 16,’’ Rogers said.

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