It’s an all-action Sevens festival

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Booze-free for Sevens.

Some Otago Country players are taking this weekend’s National Rugby Sevens so seriously they didn’t drink on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve.

That’s the word from home-team coach Tom Colling.

“We want to show we’re worthy of being in the tournament – we’ve been taking it pretty seriously the last month or so.”

Colling says his team is “a hell of a lot better prepared” than in its only other National Sevens appearance two years ago when the side became a ring-in after Horowhenua-Kapiti dropped out.

Last weekend, the Country boys had a hit-out against the Otago team at a training camp in Cromwell.

Otago Country faces three huge challenges on Saturday – playing Auckland, which has won the last four times, at 1.30pm, followed by Wellington with All Black Piri Weepu at 3.50pm, and Canterbury at 6.50pm.

“They’re quite excited about it,” Colling says.

“There’s no better way to test yourselves, really.”

Though a sub-union team, Otago Country has been awarded provincial status this time so it can claim a trophy if it wins one of the tournament’s four sections.

Cromwell-based Colling is a former Wakatipu Premiers player who was in Otago sevens teams more than 10 years ago.

In his 14-man squad, which is being pared down to 12, he’s had four Arrowtown players – the Winter brothers Aidan, Reece and Brett, and Daniel Iosefo – and Wakatipu’s Damian Petre.

In 2007, Aidan Winter played for Otago and Reece for Otago Country.

Iosefo, an assistant Arrowtown Premiers coach this year, took Otago Country in 2007 and has also played sevens for Canterbury and Southland. Colling’s No2 is Arrowtown Premiers’ other assistant coach, Hayden Finch.

The team includes former Samoan sevens rep Sam Gibbons from Cromwell.

  • Six prestigious rugby trophies will be on display during the National Sevens: the Tri Nations Trophy and Bledisloe Cup retained last year by New Zealand’s All Blacks, the Super 14 Trophy held again by the Crusaders, the Ranfurly Shield lifted by Wellington, the Air New Zealand Cup won by Canterbury and the Arrowtown Premiers’ Otago Countrywide premier championship trophy.