allblacks.com 11.Jan.2014Getty Images
In beautiful sunshine the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union hosted the New Zealand National 7s for the first time in what was a festive afternoon for Day One action.
Wellington in the men’s draw and Auckland in the women’s draw, loom as serious contenders with both going through pool play undefeated.
In the men’s draw in Pool A, All Blacks Sevens veteran Tomasi Cama having his first taste of sevens coaching, took his Manawatu side through to the quarter finals, as top qualifier with two wins and a draw. Otago edged Hawke’s Bay to qualify second.
In Pool B, Wellington coached by former All Black Scott Waldrom, and featuring All Blacks Sevens stalwart Lote Raikabula, won all three matches and qualified top ahead of Auckland who dropped one game to Wellington.
Defending men’s champions Taranaki, captained by former All Blacks Sevens forward Warwick Lahmert headed Pool C with three wins from three with Canterbury also qualifying for tomorrow’s quarter finals.
Northland headed Pool D and home town favourites Bay of Plenty also qualified.
On the women's side of the draw, Auckland were the only undefeated team, winning four from four. They headed Pool B followed by Waikato, Otago and Wellington.
In Pool A, Counties Manukau edged Manawatu on points differential to be top qualifier with three wins from four. Bay of Plenty and Taranaki also qualified.
A number of All Blacks Sevens are using the tournament to prepare for the next two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas and Wellington including Gillies Kaka, David Raikuna, Waisake Naholo, Mark Jackman and Ben Lam. The bullocking Auckland back is returning from a serious leg injury which has kept him out of the black jersey since the tail end of the last international season. The All Blacks Sevens head into camp tomorrow night.
Many New Zealand Women's players are also in action as coach Sean Horan looks to finalise his contracted squad of 20 players ahead of the next two tournaments in the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Atlanta and Sao Paulo.
Rotorua is holding the National Sevens after a decade long stay in Queenstown.
“We are pretty happy with the first day,” said Bay of Plenty Rugby Chief Executive Mike Rogers. “With a new event you are never 100 per cent sure of what to expect, but the atmosphere we saw today is what we wanted to achieve – having the Kids Zone has added to that and the teams have really enjoyed the venue. The field is in fantastic condition and the weather has played its part.”