As the rugby season kicks into gear once again, all eyes in clubland NSW will be on the picturesque Kiama Showground as the 49th Kiama Sevens competition kicks off this upcoming weekend.
Over it’s near fifty-year history, the Kiama Sevens have become increasingly renowned within Australian rugby as one of the most anticipated sevens competitions, with teams travelling from all over New South Wales and even inter-state to take part.
This is no different for the 2021 event, with forty-four teams and over seven hundred players set to converge on Kiama Showground.
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Teams will be arriving from the Sydney Subdistricts, Country NSW, the ACT, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
2020 was a fantastic year for the Kiama Sevens, taking place before the season was affected by the onset of the COVID pandemic.
Nearly three thousand people attended the 48th annual event, which saw the Warringah Rats take home the Men's Sevens Cup in a well-fought 17-14 win against West Harbour.
While the ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 throughout led to many question marks around the competition returning for it’s 49th year, in January it was signed off to go ahead, a decision that was widely applauded by local business and the broader community.
Strict COVID measures will be in place, but fans will still be set to enjoy what will be an incredible day of footy situated at one of Australia’s most beautiful rugby grounds.
Any rugby fans who won’t be able to attend in person will be able to watch the event live online throughout the day through livestream.
Multiple trophies will be up for grabs in this year's competition, with the Men’s Sevens Cup, Kiama Sevens Plate for the runners-up, the Women’s Vase, Men’s and Women’s Country Cup and the Men’s Bowl all up for grabs.
Coming into the competition as title holders, Warringah's Sevens coach Pete Hammond admitted he was relishing the opportunity to get back on the park, even if the opposition looked to directly challenge them this year.
"You've always got a target on your back when you win a competition," he said to rugby.com.au.
"[Kiama is] a big one for us. It's important to start the season off well, and with pre-season these Sevens tournaments are so important.
"They get us going. It's a good chance to get on the paddock, especially against the big boys in the opposition. It's the chance for our young guys who’ve been playing in Second Grade to show their stuff. It's also big for club cohesion: the grade boys, colts, and our women's team all take part, and we go down as one club together.
"Kiama is a great location. You've got the field right next to the beach, you can have a swim down there. They run a great tournament down there too. I love that it's on one day… it puts an emphasis on how you prepare and how you turn up."
In addition to the Rats, the likes of Gunghalin, Shoalhaven, Goulburn and Jindabyne are amongst the many teams also looking to defend their respective title crowns.
It was a long road to get the competition together for Tournament Director Mark Bryant.
"COVID did play havoc with us for a while," he said.
"We've put extra measures in place, and seen what we could and couldn't do. COVID has allowed us to rejig a few things, some opportunities have certainly come out of it.
"We've increased our Women's comp, we've got maximum numbers. We've had to jump through some hoops, but we're ready.'It's the biggest Sevens tournament in Australia, and it should be a great day of footy!"