Pacific Island teams hope to make the crowd go wild again at the Hamilton 7s this weekend.
It’s that time of the year when New Zealand rugby fans, especially Pacific Islanders, cram the stands of FMG Stadium and the busy city streets of the Waikato region.
The Fiji 7s men’s side is looking to once again defend its 7s title in Hamilton. The side is usually the biggest draw in any tournament they enter and so happens to attract many rugby fans from near and far.
They’ve made a good start, beating Samoa 19-12, although the Samoans put up a strong fight.
The Fiji team has won in Hamilton for the past two years and hopes to lift the trophy for the third consecutive time.
This year’s tournament will again host both men and women’s competition, as it did last year.
Fiji and Samoa will feature in the men’s competition, while the Fijiana side will be the lone South Pacific team in the women’s competition.
Tonga is not on the current HSBC 7s series roster and needs to win the qualifying tournaments to be promoted back to the top level.
Interestingly, this year’s tournament will not feature any quarterfinal games. The whole quarterfinal stage is being omitted from the layout.
The new format was introduced by World Rugby in the belief that it will lessen the confusion in the finals day for fans, and create better opportunities and balance for women’s rugby.
The Sydney 7s tournament will follow the same format, despite opposition from some teams and fans, including Fiji coach Gareth Baber.
The Hamilton 7s started today and will finish tomorrow.
New Zealand currently leads the World 7s series rankings for the men competition with 41 points. Fiji is ranked at 6th place with 23 points and Samoa at 7th place with 19 points. The Fijiana are currently in 8th spot in the women’s category with 20 points trailing the New Zealand Black Ferns at number 1 spot with 56 points.