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Sevens Rugby strategy aims for economic development

Tuesday, 16 April 2013 2:00 p.m.

The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and Bay of Connections have joined forces on a strategy to establish the region as the international home of Sevens rugby development.

The potential economic benefits for the region from Sevens Rugby are significant and the region has already secured the national tournament, which is to be held in Rotorua for the next two years after being hosted in Queenstown since 2003.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union Chief Executive, Mike Rogers, says the profile of Sevens rugby has been raised to a new level internationally in the past five years, predominately due to the introduction of the game to the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

“As a result, we have seen significant growth in the game, from new players, supporters and sponsors alike. New Zealand is considered internationally to have set the performance benchmark, and there is a high level of interest in our expertise and programmes.”

Mr Rogers says the Bay of Plenty Sevens strategy sets out a plan to establish the region as the leading training, performance and education provider for the game. The strategy involves plans to offer training facilities and programmes, a Sevens education hub, a hosting programme for teams from around the world, the further development of existing and future tournaments, and the development of new Sevens events.

He says the region is well-placed to be the home of Sevens rugby.

“We can provide the whole package – a one-stop shop for all Sevens-related activity. We have the human resources and local expertise, we have the existing infrastructure that would be required and a history of hosting visitors and successful events,” he says.

“Sevens Rugby offers extensive economic development opportunities for the Bay of Plenty region and we are excited about its potential.”

While the plan is ambitious, Mr Rogers says the rugby union is confident the region can deliver.

“As a union, we identified a few years ago that Sevens would be a good fit for us. What separates our region from others is that we are taking a collaborative approach – we are all working together.”

Mr Rogers says the strategy is about much more than rugby outcomes, with a firm focus on providing economic benefit for the entire region through education, tourism, increased visitor numbers and profile.

He says the successful bid to host the national Sevens tournament for the next two years is just the beginning of things to come.

Fiona McTavish, the Bay of Connections Management Group chair, says the Sevens strategy is an exciting addition to the economic portfolio of the wider Bay of Plenty.

“Many people might just think of Sevens rugby as an entertaining sporting occasion, and it certainly is that – but it has the potential to offer much more than this for our economy,” she says.

“Sevens rugby presents a wide range of opportunities, particularly in the areas of tourism and education, with a wider economic benefit as a result of that.”

The Bay of Connections Sevens Rugby Strategy has seven key focus areas:

 Tournaments and events  International standard facilities  High performance facilities and programmes  Sevens educational hub  Recreational and team-building hosting programmes  International programme development  Funding development

Ms McTavish says the region has the people, skills and expertise, facilities and locations to be the international Sevens service provider of choice for players, coaches, management and rugby organisations.

The Bay of Connections is the wider Bay of Plenty’s regional economic development strategy with several sector strategies and working groups focusing on, among other industries, forestry, energy, aquaculture, Maori development and sport and recreation. The Bay of Connections region includes Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo and Western Bay of Plenty.

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