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Preview: 2012 NZ National Sevens

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James Mortimer     05 Jan 2012     Getty Images

Since 2005 Auckland has won five of the titles on offer, including beating Taranaki 36-26 in last season’s edition to win their tenth overall crown – the most of any team.

The North Island teams dominate the event, with North Harbour boasting the next best ledger with eight championship wins.

Last season it seemed as if Taranaki would take the title with a comfortable 26-12 lead in the second half, before Wayne Pivac’s troops would come back to score the last four tries to deny the amber and blacks what would have been their first title since 1982.

While Pivac, who has coached Fiji and overseen the trinity of Northern New Zealand union (Auckland, North Harbour and Northland), was reappointed as Auckland coach last year for two years.

Auckland will approach the tournament favourites not only by virtue of their status as defending champions and the most successful union, but they claimed the Gold Coast Sevens (an invitational event last year, not the IRB leg), and defeated Counties in the North Island competition.

Tasman won the South Island equivalent, but to put into perspective the North’s domination, they were placed 14th in last year’s National Sevens.

How to team’s qualify for the tournament?

Teams from the 26 Provincial Unions have to qualify to attend at the National Event in Queenstown.

Teams that were placed in the top eight, after round robin play the previous year, have automatic right of entry into the following years event. The host union also has a right of entry. If the host union has won its right to attend by being with the top eight then their entry position will go to the winner of the bowl the previous year.

Various other equations come to effect as well.

The Provincial Unions are split into Northern, Central and Southern Zones. A Ratio of 6,5,5 establishes a way for those teams, that have not qualified, to enter through the regions ratio. For example if we take the Central Region of which there are Nine Unions to fill 5 positions. Bearing in mind that at least two of the positions will be filled by Unions that have already qualified by how they were placed the previous year, we then have 7 Unions vying for 3 positions. Each region has a Tournament which doubles as a qualifying round to identify Unions for those last positions.

In some occasions all is not lost for Unions that fail to make their regions ratio. They may be granted a wildcard entry if some other region ratio is not filled by the respective Unions. This may be due to various reasons.

2012 New Zealand Sevens Pools

Pool A: Auckland, Manawatu, Hawke's Bay, Mid Canterbury.
Pool B: Taranaki, Horowhenua Kapiti, Southland, Otago.
Pool C: Waikato, Counties Manukau, Northland, Wellington.
Pool D: Bay of Plenty, North Harbour, Tasman, Canterbury.

Roll of honour
(Winner Venue)

1975 Marlborough Auckland
1976 Marlborough Christchurch
1977 Manawatu Blenheim
1978 Manawatu Hamilton
1979 Manawatu Palmerston North
1980 Auckland Palmerston North
1981 Taranaki Palmerston North
1982 Taranaki Feilding
1983 Auckland Feilding
1984 Auckland Feilding
1985 Counties Feilding
1986 North Harbour Feilding
1989 North Harbour Christchurch
1990 Auckland Pukekohe
1991 Auckland Palmerston North
1992 North Harbour Palmerston North
1993 Canterbury Palmerston North
1994 Counties Palmerston North
1995 Counties Palmerston North
1996 Waikato Palmerston North
1996 Waikato Palmerston North
1997 Waikato Rotorua
1998 Waikato Rotorua
1999 North Harbour Palmerston North
2000 North Harbour Palmerston North
2001 North Harbour Palmerston North
2002 Wellington Palmerston North
2003 No event -
2004 North Harbour Queenstown
2005 Auckland Queenstown
2006 Auckland Queenstown
2007 Auckland Queenstown
2008 Auckland Queenstown
2009 North Harbour Queenstown
2010 Waikato Queenstown
2011 Auckland Queenstown

Welcome message from NZRU President Bryan Williams

On behalf of the New Zealand Rugby Union, it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the 2012 Pub Charity Rugby Sevens tournament.

Sevens rugby in New Zealand receives amazing and enthusiastic support from the community and nowhere is that more evident than at this tournament. Queenstown continues to provide a stunning backdrop to the on-field action.

The Pub Charity Rugby Sevens provides Provincial Unions with a chance to add some silverware to their cabinets and traditional provincial rivalries are as much in evidence here as in the longer form of the game. In 2011, every match was exciting and I’m sure that 2012 will see some fascinating contests.

Aspiring players are presented with an ideal opportunity to test themselves against opponents from around New Zealand and to impress New Zealand Sevens Coach Gordon Tietjens as he plans for the future, with an eye on his tenth World Sevens Series and as planning begins for the Olympic Games in 2016.

Sevens rugby raises the profile of rugby on the international stage, and plays a vital role in developing our rugby players, coaches, officials and administrators. Nine members of the All Blacks Rugby World Cup-winning squad – as well as Assistant Coach Wayne Smith – have represented New Zealand at Sevens.

Thank you to Pub Charity and the other sponsors for their support of the tournament, the Otago Rugby Union for hosting the event, the Sevens with Altitude organisers and the Otago Country rugby clubs for all their efforts in ensuring that the tournament is a success.

I would like to wish the participating teams and the match officials the best of luck. I trust that everyone here will enjoy the fun and excitement of this weekend’s action.