Bayleys 2017 National Sevens; Day One was a Success

Rotorua Bayleys National Sevens
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Under a brilliant blue sky, the Bayleys 2017 National Sevens Day One was a success. This can be judged by the quality of rugby sevens on show [excellent] and by the focus all teams placed on the event.

The quality came from high intensity match-ups right from the start. Once the hooter blew at 10:25am, the action kept up virtually all day. And the focus was evident from the blend of current New Zealand representatives, and bright young talent. That meant you could watch old heads like Rocky Kahn and Sherwin Stowers, beside young fliers like Joe Ravouvou and Mason Emerson.

National Sevens Day One Was a Success

Arriving early, the set-up at the Rotorua International Stadium was perfect–two fields of play. That was supported by SkySports NZ, who had a dedicated channel for games on Field One–plus delayed coverage of selected games from Field Two. Great coverage and a well organised event.

Rotorua Mayor Stevie Chadwick and Bay of Plenty Rugby CEO Mike Rodgers welcoming the teams participating in the Rotorua Bayleys National Sevens on January 14, 2017  (Photo by Mead Norton Photography/Getty Images)

It has to be, as logistically it requires all teams to be organized to be prepared. That includes match officials, support staff and the ACC SportSmart tent. This had two-functions today: firstly to educate the players and public on the best practices to reduce and prevent injury. A key protocol for all teams, and NZ Rugby.

Secondly, it was where the cool-down area was. The ice-bath there was well used by all teams–recovery being a primary factor in these teams facing three tough games. As well as the bath and physio tables, the message was being promoted by ACC Ambassador Nehe Milner-Skudder and Sarah Goss.

First Up Matches Count as Day One ‘Hots Up’

After the first round of games, a few upsets had altered the standings. Auckland women were stunned 19-24 by the hosts Bay of Plenty (BOP). Canterbury denied their men from that home-advantage, 17-19 in a tight tussle. And a few other games were closely matched.

Standout players were Levi Harmon from Wellington, Waisea Lawebuka of Northland while in the women’s draw, Portia Woodman ‘let loose’ in the second match, Counties winning 45-0, while Kelly Brazier helped her team get passed Hawke’s Bay 42-5.

It showed the quality of matches, plus the effort required. Once your team earned two wins [Waikato] the smiles returned. Zac Guildford was providing his team mates with good support, so the stars like Sevu Reece and Tyler Campbell could prosper. And that applied to both sides of the draw.

The only confusion today was during a couple of games where a ‘clash in jersey’ was very evident. Harbour and Southland firstly, and then Manawatu only had different coloured shorts on, to that South Canterbury–the SkySport commentators were explicit in the affect it had on South Island team. Hopefully those issues will be remedied for Sunday.

Men’s Pool Results

Pool A: Waikato 24 Southland 14 | Hawkes Bay 31 North Harbour 7 | Waikato 19 Harbour 7 | H Bay 24 South 21 |  Waikato 28 H Bay 5 | Harbour 21 South 14
Pool B: Northland 24 South Canterbury 7 | Counties-Manukau 26 Manawatu 7 | North 33 Mana 5 | Counties 55 Sth Canty 0 | North 14 Counties 15 | Mana 29 Sth Canty 12
Pool C: Bay of Plenty 17 Canterbury 19 | Taranaki 19 Tasman 28 | Naki 33 Canty 5 | BOP 28 Tasman 17 | BOP 17 Naki 21 | Tasman 17 Canty 14
Pool D: Wellington 36 Horowhenua-Kapiti 7 | Auckland 19 Otago 12 | Welly 17  Otago 10 | Auck 40 Horo-Kap 12 | Otago 29 Horo-Kap 12 | Welly 7 Auck 12
It appeared that the form book was not as much needed as teams also needed a calculator to finalize the seedings for Day Two. With North Harbour evading the indignity of a draw with Southland [by only a whisker of referees time] it meant the placings of Canterbury and Tasman determined who would play who, tomorrow.

Women’s Pool Results

Pool A: Manawatu 33 North Harbour 5 | Waikato 12 Otago 12 | Mana 20 Otago 10 | Waikato 24 Harbour 10 | Mana 17 Waikato 12 | Otago 38 Harbour 12
Pool B: Wellington 41 Hawkes Bay 0 | Bay of Plenty 24 Auckland 19 | Welly 0 Auck 31 | BOP 42 H Bay 5 | Auck 43 H Bay 0 | Welly 0 BOP 33
Pool C: Counties-Manukau 40 Taranaki 5 | Canterbury 25 Tasman 0 | Counties 45 Tasman 0 | Canty 24 Taranaki 10 | Tasman 24 Taranaki 5 | Countie 35 Canty 12
At the conclusion of the day, the loss by Auckland meant that team lost a seeding place, but with the tight contests over Day One, nothing could be predicted….beside Portia Woodman scoring. Pure class, and head and shoulders above most others.

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So after a long, hot day, teams returned to their bases to rest and recuperate. The best prepared teams would fare well on Day Two. The ACC SportSmart tent was well attended and the play-offs would pit the best sides against each other in the semi finals [the bottom placed eight teams play in a Bowl quarter final] 

Men’s Cup Quarter Finalists:  

Waikato v Northland | Auckland v Taranaki   | Tasman v Wellington | Counties-Manukau v Hawke’s Bay

In the women’s draw, with only 12 teams, the Cup quarter finals were played first, to establish the four teams who would go on to the challenge for the Bayleys National Sevens title.

Women’s Cup Quarter Finalists: 

Manawatu v Wellington | Bay of Plenty v Waikato | Counties-Manukau v Otago  | Auckland v Canterbury

Overall, it was great first day of the national sevens weekend. With Sevens Rugby ready to promote the ball, spectators never knew how the games would end–only a couple of games were truly ‘one sided’ as all teams used every inch of the field (and some).

But Day One was a success. On the field and off, the stars of the game just have to produce the same high quality tomorrow, and one men’s and one women’s team will walk away as New Zealand Provincial Sevens Champions.

“Main photo credit”