Peter Slattery gives some passing advice to ex-Wallaby Michael O'connor in the countdown to the big rugby sevens tournament in Noosa.
Peter Slattery gives some passing advice to ex-Wallaby Michael O'connor in the countdown to the big rugby sevens tournament in Noosa.

Sevens red letter day

The Queensland Reds are sending a team to next month’s inaugural Noosa International Sevens rugby union tournament.

Reds’ coach Ewen McKenzie has agreed to send a squad to the two-day event scheduled for November 20 and 21 as he prepares the Brisbane-based club for a new season of Super 15 rugby.

First details of the Noosa tournament were released today by event director Peter Slattery, a former Wallaby who is using his extensive contacts in the game to bring 16 teams representing Australian and overseas clubs to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Slattery’s announcement of the Noosa event coincided with the start of the two-day Rugby Sevens competition at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi where Australia is competing for the gold medal.

The head coach of Australia’s national Sevens team, Michael O’Connor, has already thrown his support behind the Noosa tournament, which has the potential to grow into a significant event on the national rugby calendar.

Shortly before leaving with the team for Delhi, O’Connor said he hoped the Noosa International Sevens would become an annual event with teams marking it on their calendars.

“Sevens rugby is an important element in the range of rugby development programs organised by the ARU (Australian Rugby Union) and the various Super Rugby franchises around the country,” O’Connor said.

Sevens rugby was developed in the Scottish border country more than 100 years ago and was introduced to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. But its full recognition on the world stage will come in 2016 when it becomes part of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The attainment of Olympic sport status has given fresh impetus to Sevens which is now played around the world in a series of annual tournaments organised by the International Rugby Board – including a World Cup played every four years.

Former Wallaby Paul Carozza, now head coach and coordinator of the Queensland Reds Academy, said the inclusion of Sevens tournaments in the Queensland team’s training and development program began last year, with a Reds team playing in an event on the Gold Coast.

This year the Reds plan to take part in three Sevens tournaments including Noosa, and Carozza said the shorter and faster version of the traditional 15-a-side game “had become part of the curriculum”.

“With its inclusion in the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics there is clearly more focus on Sevens,” he said.

“It has also become a genuine pathway for younger and talented players into Super 15 Rugby.”

Carozza said the Reds would probably select a 12-man squad for Noosa.

A total prize pool of $25,000 will be offered by the Noosa Dolphins, the club hosting the tournament at its home ground in Sunshine Beach.

The prize pool has helped to generate strong interest in the event from a wide range of rugby teams and clubs.

The tournament will have 16 teams being seeded into four pools on Day One. Each team will play the three others in its pool during the first day – a total of 24 games. The final pool standings will then determine which teams progress into two knockout tournaments, the Cup and the Bowl.

Day Two will consist of 14 knockout games including the two finals.

A total of 38 matches will be played during the tournament.

Each team has seven players and each game is divided into two seven-minute halves with a two minute break in-between.

To maintain the excitement and fit so many matches into the schedule, the teams for each new game have to be ready for action even as the full-time whistle in the previous match is blown.

And that translates to non-stop on-field action for the fans during the two days.

Live music and performances throughout each day with activities for children and a range of food and drinks outlets will ensure all of the family are looked after. The Noosa Dolphins hope to generate a party atmosphere at the ground, just minutes from Noosa’s golden beaches and the boutiques, cafes and restaurants of Hastings Street.

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