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Saturday 16 October 2010 | Published in Regional

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International Sevens in

Heaven draws big field

The annual Sevens in Heaven rugby tournament on November 4-6 is going to be bigger and better than ever in its 21 years.

The 2010 Cook Islands International Sevens has drawn a record field of 25 teams – 16 men’s teams and nine women’s teams – and will see competition spread over three playing days instead of two.

The growth and popularity of the event is due to the energy of Lara Sadraka at Destination Cook Islands and their team, the festive atmosphere they’ve created and the improving quality of players, teams and games.

New Zealand’s Rugby News magazine recently profiled the tournament with a story that said, ‘Under the balmy skies of Rarotonga, this event goes off.”

Again this year CITC is the presenting sponsor with co-sponsors ANZ, Telecom, Budget, CI Tourism, Air New Zealand and Avarua Bakery with team sponsors Cook Islands News, Pitt Media Group, 88FM, General Transport, Club Raro and Rehab.

The tournament opens on Wednesday November 3 with a team manager’s meeting at 12 noon.

Festivities start at 1pm on Thursday November 4 with a team march at BCI Stadium at 1pm, official opening at 1.15, the popular ‘ANZ Dash for Cash’ charity race for players at 1.30pm.

Day one of pools rugby sevens starts at 3pm.

Day two pool games start at 1pm on Friday November 5.

Day three finals games start at 9.30am on Saturday November 6 with the cup final to be played at 7.30pm.

In the men’s draw, watch for perennial favourites Tauae Bulls, a CI and NZ selection side, which has included names such as Rene Ranger, Zar Lawrance and Edwin Cocker in recent years.

Rugby news is it’s possible James Kamana of the Tasman Makos will front again this year. Kaman’s Tasman teammate Francis Smith was instrumental in the Rebels’ Cup victory in 2009. Smith could be back if, as expected, the Makos miss the ITM Cup semifinals.

Sadraka says most teams like to keep their ‘big name’ players low key as an element of surprise at the event.

The men’s draw includes seven Kiwi teams and the Melbourne Valley Reds.

In the women’s competition, which last year had just three teams, a team from Tahiti has been added to four from New Zealand. Don’t be surprised to see a Black Fern appearance especially as the Auckland powerhouse College Rifles has entered for a second time. Sharpen Up will not be back but the 2009 runners-up T&M Crushers will be hot to trot.

Fund-raising ‘Gap It’ t-shirts be sold out the front of CITC Liquor each Saturday until the tournament. Early-bird special on tees are $25 each.