Oceania Rugby in association with Rugby Australia, has today announced they will host the Inaugural Oceania Rugby Under 18’s Sevens Championship in Sydney on April 21-22 at St Ignatius College.
The move will be the regions first age grade sevens competition and has been designed to provide a meaningful sevens pathway for Oceania, mirroring that of the regions 15-a-side programme.
Adding even more value to this year’s competition, the Championship will double as the regional qualification tournament for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in October later this year.
Australia v Fiji during the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games (Photo: Scott Barbour Stringer/GettyImages)
Oceania Rugby President Richard Sapias believes this tournament will become an essential element preparing the regions talent, “tournaments such as the Oceania Rugby U18s Sevens Championships are a vital part of the international player pathway for unions in our Region. International age grade tournaments assist in bridging the transition from school and provincial competitions to national representation.”
Rugby Australia echoed those sentiments and will be the ones to watch, as Australian girls won Gold at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing and the Australian Women won Gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Rugby Australia’s Performance Manager 7s Rugby, Scott Bowen, said,
“We’re really excited for our teams to be participating in this competition. Not only is it going to provide important game development against the teams from our region but will keep Australia in the hunt for Youth Olympic qualification.
Bowen further added, “Our youth Pathways for Sevens is greatly enhanced by playing quality international opposition and I would like to thank Oceania Rugby for having the championships in Australian this year.”
Kelvin Masoe scores a try during Samoa's Gold Medal win at the the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games (Photo: Mark Kolbe GettyImages)
Teams from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga will contest one qualification spot for Oceania in each of the Boys and Girls sections.
In continuing its pledge to promote and grow women’s rugby in the region, the girl’s final in Sydney will be the main event of the Championship and will be the last game on the final day of competition. The Women’s final was also featured at last year’s regional blue-ribbon event in Suva, during the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship between Australia and New Zealand.
World Rugby’s, Rugby Services Manager Oceania, Bruce Cook said,
"The increased numbers of girls playing rugby within the region and the improvement of pathways within member unions now means that there are viable numbers and clear pathways for girls entering the game. The creation of an annual tournament for boys and girls in the Oceania Rugby Under 18’s Sevens Championship which mirrors the combined senior event is a testament to the commitment from Oceania Rugby to ensure that there is equal access for both genders to participate in rugby across Oceania”