Caption: Defending champions Aussie Pearls.
Teams from Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia and the USA feature in an expanded women’s field at next week’s Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens.
Twelve sides, up from eight last year, contest a total prize purse of $FJD15,000, including $10,000 for the winners, with the champion also receiving the striking Crest Na Iri Trophy.
Aussie Pearls, the defending title holders, return to Lawaqa Park on November 14-16 as top seed. The recent Oceania Sevens champions play Fitness First Central Coast champions Tribe, local club Striders and newcomers New Caledonia in Pool G.
Host nation Fiji, who lost in that Oceania final a month ago, is in Pool H with fellow Fijians Marist Sea Hawks and visiting clubs Pacific Two Blues, recently crowned Sydney champions, and Sydney Fiji Ranadi.
“After this tournament we go to the IRB Sevens Women’s Series in Dubai so the Coral Coast Sevens will be used as a final trial,” said Fijiana coach Timoci Wainiqolo. “We know that it will be tough in Dubai but the preparation has started and we are looking forward to it.”
Serevi Selects, coached by USA women’s mentor Ric Suggitt and featuring several players in the USA Rugby residency program, meet Brisbane club Sunnybank and new local sides Central Chiefs and Outrigger on the Lagoon in Pool J.
The Americans, named after one of the major sponsors of the tournament, will be at their first Coral Coast Sevens while the Aussies return for their second tilt at the silverware having recently made the final at the Central Coast Sevens.
“We are delighted with both the increase in numbers and the quality of the field for the Crest Na Iri Trophy,” said Tournament Director Nick Jordan. “We are particularly looking forward to welcoming the new teams such as Serevi Selects, New Caledonia and Tribe and seeing whether the Aussie Pearls can repeat their exciting victory of 2012.
“The growth of women’s rugby sevens is relentless ahead of the Olympic Games in 2016 and we hope our tournament can assist the development of young players on their Road to Rio. Our thanks go to Goodman Fielder Fiji for their generous support of the women’s game.”
Pool play takes place over Thursday and Friday before the top eight and bottom four split off into knock-out matches on Friday evening.
The Cup and Plate semis and finals, along with the Bowl final, will be live on FBC TV from 2pm on Saturday and called by the voice of women’s sevens, Melodie Robinson.
POOLS FOR THE CREST NA IRI TROPHY, November 14-16, Sigatoka
Pool G: Aussie Pearls, Tribe, Striders, New Caledonia
Pool H: Fijiana, Marist Sea Hawks, Pacific Two Blues, Sydney Fiji Ranadi
Pool J: Serevi Selects, Sunnybank, Central Chiefs, Outrigger
The complete match schedule is attached.