New Zealand seek new crop of sevens stars
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Not only is New Zealand’s schoolboy rugby participation in a downward spiral, but they are also pulling out all the stops to reignite the countries Sevens passion and unearth new talent.
A total of 48 male and 48 female athletes will be selected to take part in the event Ignite7 at The Trusts Arena, Waitakere, from November 20-24, where they will compete for six places at the 2020 New Zealand Sevens Development Camps.
Ignite7 was designed to earmark new talent, the unique five-day event includes an intensive NFL-style combine which will test athlete’s fitness and skill level, as well as an action-packed one-day sevens tournament which will be televised.
NZR Head of High-Performance Mike Anthony said he expected Ignite7 2019 to hold wide appeal to current players as well as non-rugby athletes looking to make an impact in sevens.
“Ignite7 provides young athletes with the opportunity to be part of an event which could see a career in sevens take off, regardless of their sporting background. We’re looking for strong, fast and agile talent so we’re encouraging anyone who thinks they have what it takes to play sevens to register.”
Anthony said as well as the three male and three female athletes that secured spots in the 2019 Sevens Development Camps, it was exciting to see a number of athletes from 2018 making significant steps in their sevens careers.
Wings Montessa Tairakena and Mahina Paul both secured contracts with the Black Ferns Sevens for the 2019 season, while sevens newcomers William Warbrick and Jacob Kneepkens made the All Blacks Sevens Development squad.
“It’s fantastic to see these young athletes kick start their professional careers and it’s great that this programme could play a part in that journey.
“The achievements of these players is a testimony to the success of the event, and we’re looking forward to seeing what new talent this year’s search will unearth as we look to the next big pinnacle event in 2024.”
Team Inferno, Bolt, Surge and Power will be back again this year, as the 96 athletes are split into four men’s and four women’s teams. Viewers might see some familiar faces as a number of last year’s participants re-join their teams in the hope of securing a spot in the 2020 New Zealand Sevens Development Camps.
Over the coming months, NZR’s High-Performance Sevens coaches and trainers will evaluate applications before selecting the final teams.
In other news: