Mudgee is bracing for one of the strongest days of rugby sevens the town has hosted following the final nominations for the 2017 Bowden’s Silver Sevens Heaven rugby tournament on Saturday.
Tournament co-organiser Brett Swords said the 20 men’s sides and eight women’s teams that have been finalised to take part in this year’s festival were some of the strongest he’s seen in well over a decade helping run the event.
He pointed to the two West Harbour sides in the men’s draw and the bumper nomination of Fijian sides Nadroga Stallions, Lavaka Rugby Club, Yamacia Rugby, the Silktails and Johnnys Latvian Warriors as reason to believe this year’s edition of the annual rugby sevens competition could be one of the best the event has seen in its 29-year history.
“I’ve done 13 years or running the sevens and I’ve helped of out for last three years ... these are the strongest pools I’ve seen,” Swords said.
The one-day event boasts four pools of five teams.
He said the Mudgee sevens tournament kicked off what was a tour of sorts for the Fijian sides.
The $12,000 total prize pool goes some of the way to helping fun nominations for events like the Byron Bay Sevens and then other sevens tournaments on the Central Coast.
“And they use this as a means of getting ready for it,” Swords added.
“There’s lots of Fijian teams this year, which is really making for a good event.”
Games kick-off at 9am at Glen Willow and run over the course of 15-minute intervals on three separate fields until the finals converge on field one.
The Cup final kicks off at 4pm, while the women’s final will begin at 1.15pm.
The Deadwood Rugby Club has been pooled with two Fijian outfits, the Stallions and Warriors, in pool D, while hosts club, the Wombats, will also have to face a West Harbour side, the Yamacia Rugby Fijians and the Newcastle Sea Men in pool C.
The competition is no easier in pool B, the Cornwallis Crusaders expected to be tough to beat alongside another West Harbour side.
While two Fijian sides are also in pool A, alongside Hunter club Lakes.
With just the top sides progressing through to the Cup semi-finals, the 2017 edition of the Mudgee Rugby Sevens is shaping up as a cut-throat competition.
“And the girls are really strong as well … there’s a Hunter team, the Manly Mermaids, Sydney Uni: they’re the top three teams in that women comp,” Swords added.
A Central West team, dubbed the Honey Badgers, will also take on the women’s draw.
Swords said the success of the tournament, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2018, can be attributed to both the Mudgee region and the quick-fire nature of the one-day event.
“It first started as a fundaraidsr to pay for the (Jubilee Oval) clubhouse. Then we’ve hosted it year after year, enjoying enjoys it,” he said.
Last year’s winners, the Uluinakau Babas, haven’t nominated – they beat the Warringah Rats 36-7 in the final to take out the $6000 Cup in 2016.