CAPTION: Red Rock representatives with Phil Toogood (Bayleys Fiji) and Melodie Robinson.
The Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens today celebrated 100 Days To Go at a luncheon at Outrigger on the Lagoon · Fiji yesterday.
The resort hosted more than 40 sponsors, media and special guests in the countdown to the fourth edition of the tournament on 14-16 November at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.
Guest speaker Melodie Robinson, the IRB Women’s Sevens commentator, said she saw the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens, featuring the Crest Na Iri Women’s Trophy, as the start of something big.
“With the inclusion of sevens on the Olympic calendar and the massive growth in the numbers playing the game and new tournaments popping up then what you are doing here has the potential to be the premier tournament in the South Pacific,” she said.
“This tournament is special because it is international and set in a country that loves rugby plus the ‘champion of champions’ format is very attractive.”
The former Black Fern, who also won the Hong Kong Sevens playing for New Zealand, said sevens was one of the reasons she loved rugby so much.
“Rugby is my passion and I have the job I’ve always dreamed of though it is very rare to bring my husband and family with me so it is a real honour to be here in Fiji.
“Fiji is a special place for so many reasons but one of them is the sheer athleticism and flair that Fijians have brought to the game of sevens. The way Fiji has been such a force on the international scene is a real credit to everyone in the country.”
Robinson recently returned from RWC Sevens in Moscow, where the Fijiana won the Women’s Bowl, and today highlighted the development in the women’s game.
“With women playing at the Olympics I have seen exponential growth over the last year. Five of the teams that play on the circuit are full-time athletes and teams have been created to compete internationally.
“The Aussie Pearls, who won the Na Iri Trophy last year, used this tournament as a launching pad for new stars that were in Moscow 2013, where they won the Plate, so that’s how significant this tournament is for them.
“The game has new stars like Portia Woodman, Kayla McAlister, Mo’onia Gerrard and Tyla Nathan-Wong coming through and will become more recognisable as we get closer to the Olympics,” said Robinson.
Robinson aims to return to the tournament, which has Bayleys Real Estate as its first naming rights sponsor, this November.
“This is an event that is really relevant to us as a family company,” said Philip Toogood, Managing Director and Partner, Bayleys Fiji Ltd.
“Rugby sevens unites families, communities and villages and is definitely Fiji’s sport of choice and for us to be involved in something that does all that at a domestic level and also grows this fabulous sport is a great opportunity for Bayleys.
“We are confident that the standards we like to set as a company will be mirrored by the organisers, the teams and all the other sponsors, we’re very excited and we’re looking forward to having a lot of fun.”
Representatives of Red Rock, the defending champion, were in attendance at today’s launch.
The Suva club will be one of 24 men’s teams vying for the I-wau trophy while 12 women’s teams will contest the Crest Na Iri Trophy
Along with Bayleys, Goodman Fielder Fiji, Fiji Airways, Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa, Naviti Resort, Hideaway Resort & Spa, Coastal Rental Cars, Nivea Men, Tappoo Group of Companies, Fiji Chemicals Diversey, Serevi Rugby and Sigatoka River Safari are the major sponsors of the tournament.