Wellington sevens to relocate to Hamilton

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
  • Wellington

Hamilton will officially take over the hosting rights for the Wellington HSBC Sevens Series for years 2018-19. NZ Rugby made an official announcement this morning. The move comes after a significant decline in crowd numbers to the event in recent years. 

NZ Rugby is hoping FMG Stadium Waikato's new facelift will attract the crowds. 
NZ Rugby CEO, Nigel Cass says, "We've had 18 great years in Wellington but we all recognized, all the partners in Wellington recognized that Sevens could have been better than it had been in 2017."
What once catered to a sell-out crowd of 35,000 at Wellington's Westpac Stadium saw only 10,000 turn out for both days of the tournament this year. Cass says the geographical location and facilities at FMG Stadium Waikato will offer more for audiences. 
Cass says, "We've got some really well defined zones so you don't have to control the whole venue, you can have an alcohol free zone, a party zone, a rugby watchers zone, a family zone."
Meanwhile, Sevens players are also welcoming the new move believing that a crowd reboost will improve game outcomes.
Liam Messam says, "Hong Kong is the best tournament to play in, not just because it's the place of the Sevens, but just because the crowd and the atmosphere and the way fans get behind it and if Hamilton does the same it could be the best tournament going around."
The two-day tournament will be hosted on the weekend of February 3-4. Cass says future considerations to incorporate a Women's Sevens will be looked at.