Condor Sevens Preview

Article courtesy of Club Rugby

Labour Day Monday again means college sevens at Naenae College, as teams vie for a place at the Condor Sevens National Tournament in Auckland at the end of next month. There are two places in each of the boys’ and girls’ sections up for grabs at the tournament’s new home of Kings’ College.

Scots College and St Mary’s College will look to defend their regional titles, with both performing well at the main event. Scots made the last four again, but that championship again proved elusive beaten by Rotorua Boys in the semi-finals, while St Mary’s fell to eventual winners Howick College in the quarters.

As with last year there are 10 Boys teams and six in the Girls, plus the addition this time of five U15 sides who’ll take part in their own tournament postponed from a week ago.

Boys:

Once again Scots College will wear the favourites tag for the Christian Cullen Cup and likely to have both Roderick Solo and Ethan Webster-Nonu – both named in squads this week for the Red Bull Ignite 7’s later this year – to lead their efforts.

However the real surprise is in two schools not entered; neither last year’s runners-up and past winners St Pat Silverstream nor Wellington College are fronting with a lack of interest seemingly the reason.

That in turn leaves the rest of the competition wide open. St Pats Town and Rongotai are the other two seeded teams and both looking to return to the national event while the other 2019 Premiership school entered – Aotea who will be led by Ropati So’oalo who is also off to the Ignite event – will certainly fancy their chances as well.

A swag of Premier 2 schools completes the field. Porirua and Upper Hutt return after being absent in recent seasons, joining Hutt Valley HS – who were competitive last year – Taita, and Wainuiomata, and while all longer shots to make it could make life difficult for the favoured sides. A second side from Scots is also in the mix though are ineligible to progress to the Cup section.

The format is like last year with three-team pools and one of four. Pools A and B play the matches in their pool and one crossover game while Pool C is a straight round-robin. The pool winners will progress to the semi-finals along with the next best side after pool play.

Pool A: Scots, Upper Hutt, Wainuiomata
Pool B: St Pats Town, Porirua, Taita
Pool C: Rongotai, Aotea, Hutt Valley, Scots 2

Girls:

St Mary’s will go into the day as the multiple time defending champion but may be favourites on reputation alone.

Having already surrendered their College Sport title this year, they’ll be keen not to let the Kat Simpkins Cup leave as well. However they’ll face some stiff opposition, particularly from Queen Margaret College, who should have both Paris Lokotui and Te Araroa Sopoaga in their side with the latter also heading to the Ignite 7’s, while Wainuiomata will be seeking a return to the nationals after performing well there last year.

Wellington East and Sacred Heart are the other sides eligible for a national’s place, with a second side from St Mary’s completing the field. If there is some disappointment on this section it’s that there isn’t a side from the Porirua or central Hutt, nor Hutt Valley HS who were runners-up last year.

They’ll play the same format as Pools A & B in the Boys, though the top two in each will move onto the semi-finals. St Mary’s second side is eligible to progress, but only their designated top team can qualify for the Nationals.

Pool G: St Mary’s, Queen Margaret, Wellington East
Pool H: Wainuiomata, Sacred Heart, St Mary’s 2

Under 15 Boys

With the inclement weather last weekend forcing the cancellation of the original date, the Under 15s will join their senior counterparts for the first time. Scots are the defending champions and are joined by four of the schools from this year’s 15’s Division 1 competition; last year’s 7’s runners-up St Pats Town, this year’s 15’s winners Wellington College and runners-up Silverstream, and Mana in what should be an interesting and hard-fought tournament.

They’ll play a round-robin, with the top two teams from that progressing to the final.

Pool play gets underway at 9am with the first of the knockout games at 1.20pm. The U15s is the first of the finals and timed to kick off at 3.20pm, followed by the Girls and lastly the Boys.