'Good chance' women's world series added to Hamilton Sevens

Radio Sport, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Monday, 28 January 2019, 1:46PM
The Black Ferns Sevens could find themselves with regular fixtures on home soil in the future if a proposal to include a women's world series stop in New Zealand goes ahead.

The Black Ferns Sevens could find themselves with regular fixtures on home soil in the future if a proposal to include a women's world series stop in New Zealand goes ahead.

World Rugby competitions operations manager Douglas Langley today confirmed there was "a very good chance" an event in New Zealand will be added to the women's series for its next four-year cycle.

The women's event would be run in tandem with the current men's tournament, with both to be contested across two days.

"New Zealand are interested in a combined event with 16 men's teams and 12 women's teams if that's the way we go with the new cycle," Langley said.

"The only thing for them is it has to be over two days, but that's aligned with us currently looking at what the tournament format should be in the new cycle."

It would be a welcome addition to the calendar for the New Zealand audience and players alike. This weekend saw the Black Ferns Sevens play their first matches on home soil in an exhibition Fast Four tournament against France, England and China.

The current cycle features just two combined events, with both men and women getting to do their thing in Dubai and Sydney, and comes to an end after this year's series.

Langley said developing more combined stops on tour was one area World Rugby was trying to work on for the next cycle.

"We're trying to be innovative and look at the modern day state of rugby sevens … we have to come up with more innovations if we want to do more combined events because the current situation is they're three days and they're very long days.

"If it's a two-day event, we'll look seriously at having a combined event (in New Zealand) next year and going on."

Black Ferns Sevens star Ruby Tui had spoken at length on how much it meant to her and the team to play on home soil, and said it would be amazing for World Rugby to give them the opportunity to make it an annual occasion.

"I know the French girls and the English girls are really enjoying getting out and about. We want to show them the rest of our beautiful country, there's so much more to see and do, and if we could get all 12 nations here as well, that's part of our legacy we're trying to create."

And while Langley addressed World Rugby's concerns over trying to fit two tournaments in over just two days, Tui had no such worries.

"You're asking a Kiwi. She'll be right, it'll be all good."

World Rugby are expected to announce the layout for their next cycle around March or April, and while Langley confirmed that while there would be some changes in the countries that host the events, New Zealand had a "very good" chance of remaining on the schedule.

However, it might become a biannual affair, as Langley also confirmed there were talks of the Hamilton tournament being held in Fiji in alternate years.

As reported by the Herald in July last year, New Zealand Rugby have been in talks with the Fijian Rugby Union over a deal that would see both countries hosting the tournament.

"There's some negotiations going on," Langley said, "They've got to look at the feasibility of that happening and once they have an idea of what they want to do, (World Rugby) will come in and look at their recommendations.

"It's not an 'it will happen' but it's certainly not an 'it won't happen' – it's certainly something we will look at."