NZ men and women top seeds for Oceania Sevens
The Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) has confirmed the men’s and women’s draws for the 2014 Oceania Sevens Championship, which will take place on 3-4 October alongside the Noosa International Sevens on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
New Zealand will compete in the men’s event for the first time as the Oceania Sevens will provide the perfect launch pad for the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014/15 which kicks off on Australia’s Gold Coast a week later.
The 12 teams have been drawn into three pools determined by rankings based on the results of the 2013/14 Sevens World Series, 2013 Oceania Sevens Championship and 2013 Pacific Mini Games.
New Zealand are the top seeds, reflecting their position as the current world and Sevens World Series champions, with Fiji and Samoa the highest ranked team in the other pools.
Pool A: New Zealand (1), American Samoa (6), Papua New Guinea (7), Niue (12)
Pool B: Fiji (2), Cook Islands (5), Solomon Islands (8), Tahiti (11)
Pool C: Samoa (3), Australia (4), Tonga (9), New Caledonia (10)
Teams will each play three pool matches. At the conclusion of the pool rounds the top two teams in each pool, as well as the next two best-performed teams across the three pools, will progress to the quarter-finals.
Fiji, third in the 2013-14 Sevens World Series, will be favourites to top Pool B while the up-and-coming American Samoa will face New Zealand in Pool A. The 2013 Oceania Sevens champions Samoa have a tough pool alongside Pacific Island neighbours Tonga and Australia, who finished fifth in the last World Series.
While in 2015 the Oceania Sevens will be a direct qualifier for one team into the Olympics, the 2014 tournament offers a route onto this season's HSBC Sevens World Series. The top performing non-core men’s team will play at the Wellington and Hong Kong rounds of the Series in 2015, while in Hong Kong they will also be joined by the second-ranked non-core team.
World's top two sides in women's event
The women’s event, meanwhile, will comprise one pool with New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Tonga to play each other once.
The teams will then be ranked one through seven based on results and the total number of competition points accumulated, with the top two teams progressing to the final.
A highlight of the event will be the continued rivalry between New Zealand and Australia, the top two sides in the world. Between them they won all five rounds of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in 2013/14 with New Zealand retaining their title by four points.
They will not underestimate the threat of Fiji though after they won the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series 2014/15 qualifier in Hong Kong last weekend to secure a core team place on the Series alongside the region’s top two sides.
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IRB General Manager, Oceania Will Glenwright said: “FORU is delighted to be a part of this wonderful Sevens carnival and this year we are delivering the strongest ever Oceania Sevens. Oceania is home to some of the world’s best Seven’s teams including New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Samoa.”
“The Oceania Sevens is a very important event for the region as Sevens continues to increase its appeal, especially given the prominence of the IRB Sevens World Series and the Olympic Games participation in 2016.
“The Championship will act as an Olympic qualifying event in its own right next year and is part of FORU’s Pacific Podium initiative, a collaborative high performance strategy for maximising medals for Member Unions at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.”