Rugby heavyweights are backing Queenstown’s bid to retain the National Sevens successfully held here again last weekend.
Queenstown will stage the annual tournament for the 10th time next January but this year the New Zealand Rugby Union is tendering hosting rights for 2014 and beyond.
The resort-based event attracted more than 4000 people on both Saturday and Sunday – Auckland beat Otago in the final 36-24.
NZRU president and former All Black great Bryan Williams last weekend told Mountain Scene the hosting decision isn’t his to make.
“But certainly Queenstown has done a great job in the past and the Otago union and the organising subcommittee, Sevens with Altitude, have really excelled, so going forward I’m sure they’ll be in with a real shot.
“Just talking amongst the teams and coaches and management, they’d be disappointed if it got moved somewhere else.”
Veteran NZ sevens coach Gordon Tietjens says he’d be disappointed if Queenstown lost the tournament.
“It’s a small venue but it’s got a good atmosphere – they cater for the teams pretty well and this year was exceptional because of the weather.
“They’ve got a good committee and they work very hard at what they do and they’ve got it pretty right.”
Tietjens says the players love going to Queenstown and are disappointed if they miss selection and can’t come.
“I thought initially, going into Queenstown, the difficulty would be cancellation of flights and sometimes the difficulty of getting some teams in, but we haven’t struck that.”
The tournament has only got better and he has no complaints at all, Tietjens says.
Former All Black coach Laurie Mains, deputy chairman of the Otago Rugby Football Union, says the organisers have done a fantastic job for a long period of time.
“I’m good friends with Sky Sport rugby boss Andrew Fyfe and he said that this is the best venue in NZ to have the sevens,” Queenstown-based Mains says.
“It’s one of those tournaments, a little bit like the New Zealand Golf Open – nobody wanted to know about it until The Hills near Arrowtown made a success of it, and nobody particularly wanted the sevens.”
Mains urges Queenstown Lakes District Council and the business community to help with the re-tendering bid.
“It’s too good a promotion for Queenstown for our council to let it go.”
Sevens with Altitude chairman Clark Frew says they may ask the council for help with their tender document.
“The more support we get to put together the best tender document we can, the better.”
Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden says the committee will have her council’s full backing.
“It doesn’t need to be financial to any great extent, but we’ll help in terms of support and tapping people on the shoulder and using any power we can to get it to stay here.”
Sky Sport presenter Melodie Robinson says it’s likely a revived women’s national sevens will run in conjunction with the men’s tournament next year.