For the first time in the tournament’s history, the All Black Sevens are set to compete in Oceania’s regional Sevens competition.
The Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) has announced that the 2014 Oceania Sevens will be played on 3-4 October, alongside the Noosa International Sevens on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
One week before the kick-off of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series, on 11-12 October on the Gold Coast, the regional showpiece provides the perfect preparation and launch pad.
The New Zealanders join fellow World Series men’s core teams Fiji, Australia and Samoa, who are the reigning champions having beaten Fiji 31-17 in Suva in the 2013 final.
In addition to a high-class men’s event, seven teams will compete in the women’s tournament, including Women’s Sevens World Series champions New Zealand and runners-up Australia. Fiji, who caused the upset of the tournament last year by beating New Zealand in the semi-finals, will be looking to go one better in 2014 after losing to Australia 22-5 in the final.
The strength of the tournament reflects the growing rise of Sevens rugby across the world as the 2016 Brazil Olympic Games tournament edges closer.
While in 2015 the Oceania Sevens will be a direct qualifier for one team into the Olympics, the 2014 tournament offers a route onto this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series. The top performing non-core men’s team will play at the Wellington and Hong Kong rounds of the Series in 2015, while in Hong Kong they will also be joined by the second-ranked non-core team.
The top four nations in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series will qualify directly for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Huge potential for Olympic medals
IRB General Manager for Oceania, Will Glenwright, stated: “FORU would very much like to thank hosts, the Noosa International Sevens. FORU is delighted to be a part of this wonderful Sevens carnival and this year we are delivering the strongest ever Oceania Sevens. Oceania is home to some of the world’s best Sevens teams including New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Samoa.
“The Oceania Sevens is therefore a very important event for the region. It will also act as an Olympic qualifying event in its own right next year and is part of FORU’s Pacific Podium initiative. A collaborative high performance strategy for maximising medals for Member Unions at the 2016 Rio Games.
“The Pacific Islands have only ever won one medal in the history of Olympic competition. However, FORU, in conjunction with Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), recognises the potential of the Oceania teams to win Rugby Sevens medals in 2016 and the programme seeks to harness this competitive advantage and counter-act the far greater financial resources that are being committed by other regions to prepare for Rio 2016,” added Glenwright.
The Noosa International 7s Festival was established in 2010 and has since grown to become Australia’s premier rugby Sevens event outside of the IRB Series. The 2013 Festival generated unprecedented interest including the introduction of the inaugural Open School boy’s and girl’s tournament – an exciting development for the growth of the annual festival.
“We’re delighted to incorporate the FORU Oceania Sevens into this year’s Noosa International Sevens,” said Event Director Dene Brooks.
“I can guarantee a warm welcome and a great weekend of action for all the teams and fans that join us on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. With our excellent facilities, experienced organisers and an army of volunteers, Noosa will show why it has become the sevens festival that every team wants to be part of,” he added.
FORU Oceania Sevens – Noosa, 3-4 October 2014
Men’s teams: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga,
Women’s teams: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga.