Kiama Sevens heaven

Primed:  Mark Bryant, Kiama under-12s player Tobias Crowe, Cameron Clement, Andy Friend and Tammy Fletcher. Picture: Brendan Crabb
Primed: Mark Bryant, Kiama under-12s player Tobias Crowe, Cameron Clement, Andy Friend and Tammy Fletcher. Picture: Brendan Crabb

After rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio, events such as the Kiama Sevens have taken on even greater importance. 

The Kiama Sevens is celebrating its 45th year in 2017, and is on Saturday, February 25 at Kiama Showground. 

Teams from the Illawarra, South Coast, Shoalhaven, Sydney and interstate will compete.

Australian men's sevens coach Andy Friend will be present at this year’s Kiama tournament. Friend attended last year’s Kiama Sevens in a scouting capacity, having previously participated in it as a player. 

“I was really impressed with the standard last year.

“Last year we had the Australian Rugby Legends playing… They won the tournament and out of that John Porch got the player of the tournament and I offered him a two-year contract after that. He went to Rio with us. I knew about him before here, but here was the tournament that made me say, ‘yeah’.”

Friend said there were elements that crossed over between the sevens format and traditional rugby, but in many ways “it’s a totally different game”. “I think physically as a game it’s probably the ultimate... Certainly on the world series stage; you’ve got to be quick, skillful and mentally tough. 

“It’s all those things wrapped into two or three days on the world circuit. 

“In these tournaments here it’s over one day, so it’s even tougher physically and mentally.”

There will be 32 men’s teams in three divisions, as well as eight women’s teams. 

The Kiama Sevens became an ARU club tournament in 2016; stipulations for which mean no international teams take part. The total tournament prize money is $31,000. 

Mark Bryant, Kiama Sevens tournament director said Friend held the Kiama event in high regard. 

“Tim Walsh, the (Australian) women’s coach comes down as well,” Bryant said. “We’re a different tournament. We’re domestic, any prize money goes back to the ARU clubs, it’s doesn’t go to international sides or rep sides. It goes back to the clubs, which is the grassroots of rugby.” The tournament kicks off at 8.30am.