The annual Oceania Rugby Sevens Championships will return to Fiji in 2017, 2018, 2019 with the announcement today that the Fiji Government is committing to secure the event for the next 3 years.
The Minister for Youth and Sports, Laisenia Bale Tuitubou, Fiji Government together with Oceania Rugby Women’s Director, Cathy Wong, Rugby Services Manager Oceania, World Rugby, Bruce Cook and Mr John O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Fiji Rugby Union confirmed the event’s return and the Fijian Government’s support at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva today in announcing the 2017 event.
Minister Tuitubou when asked about the funding said.
“We see this as building on the outstanding success of our rugby teams in the Olympic Games last year and supporting the bid by the FRU (Fiji Rugby Union) to host a leg of the 7s Series here on our doorstep. We hope that home ground advantage will help our teams out-perform all our visitors, including the defending Olympic women’s rugby champions!”
Following the success of the 2016 Championship the event will again combine the both the Men’s and Women’s events. The 2017 Championships will be held in Suva, at ANZ Stadium over two days, Friday 10th — Saturday 11th November, and will be the perfect lead in to the start of the 2016-2017 Men’s and Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series that kick-off in Dubai in early December.
Ms Cathy Wong, Women’s Direction Oceania Rugby noted that across the Pacific and in Fiji, rugby is a key way that people come together, gain status, and celebrate Pacific life adding.
“Oceania Rugby is committed to bringing International events to the Pacific Islands. With a record 21 teams in this year’s competition we look forward to showcasing the Gold Standard that is Rugby in Oceania to the rest of the World. I’d like to thank the Government of Fiji for their support and assistance which enables Oceania Rugby to use Rugby’s platform to raise awareness, build understanding, adjust negative social norms, and support innovative solutions to promote gender equality and rugby values including respect and solidarity.”
Mr. John O’Connor, CEO of the Fiji Rugby Union, said the FRU were “again delighted to be working with Oceania Rugby on the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship” further adding.
“It is great news that New Zealand will now be part of the tournament. We will now have Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia in the men’s competition and likewise in the Women’s competition which will provide a great opportunity for rugby supporters in Fiji to watch these Teams at the ANZ Stadium.”
O’Connor further added, “I must acknowledge and thank the Fiji Government for its support towards Rugby in Fiji and we are so thankful that the Fiji Government has committed its support for the next three years. With FRU’s announcement that it will be bidding for a leg of the HSBC World Sevens from 2020, the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship will give our country a great opportunity to build our hosting credentials over the next three years. And our players will relish the chance to compete against world class teams in front of a home crowd.”
The Men’s event will see 13 teams from around the region vying to take the championship title from Fiji, including HSBC Series core teams Australia, Samoa and New Zealand. The Women’s event has 8 teams confirmed from around the region with Papua New Guinea looking to continue the impressive work from the 2016 Championship following their invitational appearance at the Sydney 7s in February this year.
Teams are relishing the chance to return to Fiji for the tournament with Australian Women’s Sevens Coach Tim Walsh acknowledging the importance of this event on the international calendar,
“We’re looking forward to the 2017 Oceania Rugby Sevens tournament. It has become an important competition in our preseason as we continue to improve heading into a massive year for Rugby Sevens with the Commonwealth Games and World Cup,” Walsh said, “We know the tough challenges playing in Oceania brings and we look forward to another year” He added.
New Zealand are returning to the regional Championships in 2017 following an absence in 2016, Tony Philp, NZR High Performance Sevens Manager said,
“We’re pleased to have the Oceania Tournament back on our sevens calendar and know that our players will look forward to playing in Fiji. Not only will it be a quality competition on the field, the hospitality of the Fijian people off the field is always special.
“It will provide great preparation for our teams as they head into a busy season of sevens including the Commonwealth Games and World Cup” Philip added.
The Men’s Championship will comprise thirteen (13) teams playing in four (4) pools. Teams consist of Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Cook Islands, American Samoa, New Caledonia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu.