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By ARU Media Unit, FORU Media Unit
The Qantas Men’s Sevens will aim to secure a Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifying spot in front of a home crowd later this month, as North Sydney Oval plays host to the Oceania Sevens Championships.
The draw for the Oceania Sevens Championships, which runs 25-26 August, was announced today, with Australia set to face Solomon Islands, American Samoa and Tonga in pool play.
The tournament features two pools, with Australia heading up Pool B, while Samoa heads up Pool A alongside Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Tahiti.
The tournament acts as a qualifier for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Russia and with New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa already qualified, only two spots from Oceania remain up for grabs.
Qantas Men’s Sevens coach Mick O’Connor said his side entered the tournament with confidence.
“There’s some pretty handy sides in our pool but we’re focussed on getting our own house in order.
“The guys know what’s at stake, we know the gravity of the occasion but the fact is we’re playing this tournament in Australia in front of a home crowd.” O’Connor said.
“We’re heading into the tournament with a fair amount of confidence because we have experienced players in this squad.
“A large chunk of our squad are from Sydney so they’ll be comfortable in their surroundings and North Sydney Oval is a great ground that will lend itself to Sevens.
“I’d encourage people to get along, there’s some great sides attending and they’re playing for some big stakes.”
Tournament Director, Michael Groom, said the Oceania Sevens has developed a reputation for exciting and at times unpredictable Rugby between some of the best teams in the world.
“Sydney is in for a real Rugby Sevens treat with the calibre of teams participating in the Championships combined with the fact World Cup spots are up for grabs,” Mr Groom said.
“Samoa and Australia in particular have developed an incredible rivalry in the Oceania Sevens in recent years and we are going to see the next chapter played out in Sydney.
“Tonga, Cook Islands and the rapidly improving PNG team have all claimed major scalps on the HSBC Sevens World Series circuit in recent years and with Rugby World Cup qualification places up for grabs, we are in for some high-adrenalin Rugby.”
IRB General Manager, Oceania, William Glenwright, said Tournaments like the Oceania Sevens were an important barometer of the success of the IRB investment in the Pacific.
“The IRB invests over $7-million in the Oceania region each year and international competition is the pointy end of that investment,” Mr Glenwright said.
“For Unions big and small, international competition is the best benchmark not only of the athlete development programs but also the coaching and administrative structures that are in place across our Member Unions”.
Day 1 of the Oceania Sevens Championships will see the Qantas Men’s Sevens take on Solomon Islands at 12:06pm, before meeting American Samoa at 1:43pm and Tonga at 3:20pm.
Day 2 features playoff action, kicking off at 11am and wrapping up with the Championship match at 3:20pm.
The Qantas Men’s Sevens will enter a training camp at the Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen in the week leading up to the tournament.
Tickets to the Oceania Sevens Championships are available at www.proticket.com.au.
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.