League Sevens to clash with rugby - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

League Sevens to clash with rugby

By Adrian Warren 16/12/2002 07:38:57 PM Comments (0)

The Sevens showpieces of the rival rugby codes will go head-to-head next February after rugby league revived its World Sevens tournament.

Last held in 1997, the 24-team league tournament will include all 15 National Rugby League clubs plus nine nations or regions.

It will take place at Sydney's Aussie Stadium on February 1-2 - the same weekend as the Australian leg of the International Rugby Board Sevens series in Brisbane.

Some rugby league officials were surprised by the clash of dates but weren't concerned by the issue.

Neither were they worried that the first rugby union appearance of former league Test star Lote Tuqiri would steal some of the spotlight from their tournament.

"We are confident in our own tournament," said Colin Love, the chairman of both the Australian Rugby League and the International Rugby League Federation.

The Australian Rugby Union was also unperturbed the clash with a spokesperson saying the Sevens was just the start of a "bumper calendar of rugby in 2003" which would culminate in the World Cup.

Love said the league World Sevens had been resurrected now because the split in the game which occurred in the mid to late 1990s had been healed.

He said the idea to revive the tournament had come from "a number of sources".

"Clubs thought we needed this for the good of the international game, which is very encouraging when you see the clubs putting the big picture ahead of their own vested interests," Love said.

"We had some of the players, like Andrew Johns advocating a return of this sort of football and we had the fans at the Dally M awards this year crying out for the return of the sevens."

Love said demand for places in the tournament had exceeded the amount of available spots so a qualifying tournament would be held at St Marys in Sydney's west on the Wednesday beforehand to determine the last qualifier.

Apart from the 15 NRL clubs, the main draw will also feature England, France, Russia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Lebanon, Tonga and Samoa.

The qualifying tournament will be contested by several nations, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Serbia and Japan with other potential participants including teams representing New Zealand Maoris, Australian Aborigines and NSW Country.

While no major sponsor had been arranged, Love said the winning team would take away $100,000 and it was planned to stage the event on an annual basis.

Some countries including Japan and Lebanon would draw players from the Australian rugby league community with Love emphasising all NRL clubs and England had pledged to field their best available stars.

He was bullish about the international future of the game, pointing out 30,000 people recently attended a Russia-US international in Moscow and 10,000 watched Lebanon play France in Beirut.

IRLF international development manager Tas Baitieri said the World Sevens was necessary for developing league countries like France and Tonga as they needed international competition to retain government funding of the sport.

Love said there were plans to produce a South Pacific tournament and reiterated a Tri Series involving Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain would start in 2004.

The Australian coach for next year will be announced with incumbent Chris Anderson tipped to retain the position.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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