Champions Return to Uprising Youth Sevens

Champions Return to Uprising Youth Sevens

Lelean Memorial School will return to the Uprising Youth 7s in Sigatoka eager to show that their success in 2016 was not a one off.

LMS head to Lawaqa Park as defending champions having beaten Tuva Youth 17-14 in the final of the inaugural event in January.

The youth division - a shared vision between the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens and Rene Munch, owner of the Uprising Fiji Beach Resort - has quickly become the richest tournament of its type in the region.

"We are excited to see the finest youth teams in Fiji heading to the Uprising Youth 7s to be played as part of the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens in January," said founding Chairman Jay Whyte. "The Uprising Youth 7s will boast a first prize of $7500 and provides our young players the very best platform to display their skills."

"With the next Olympic Games being in Tokyo 2020 we know how pivotal the identification of the next generation of sevens stars is."

Joining the Lelean side in the 16-team competition are renowned teams like Marist Brothers High School, Ratu Kadavulevu School and Cuvu College.

Whyte expects that the inclusion of overseas youth teams from 2018 will strengthen the division and create a headache for the Fijian sides wishing to be crowned the youth champion of the South Pacific. 

"Our goal is that the Uprising Youth 7s champion will automatically qualify to compete at our partner tournaments in Australia - the UON Central Coast Sevens - and the Samoan Independence 7s,” he said.

The Uprising Youth 7s will be held at Lawaqa Park on 18-19 January 2017.

Confirmed teams:
Lelean Memorial School
Marist Brothers High School
Ratu Kadavulevu School
Cuvu College
Navosa Central College
Ratu Filise
McDonald’s Saunaka
Ra High School
Uprising Youth
Vio Panthers
Davuilevu Knights
Coastline Roos
Malomalo
Tuva Youth
King 7s Select
Natabua 

Asian Champions To Headline Fiji Coral Coast Sevens

Asian Champions To Headline Fiji Coral Coast Sevens

Asia's best teams have been confirmed for the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens in January.

The Hong Kong men and Japanese women will compete as guest sides at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka on January 19-21.

Hong Kong, in the hands of new Fiji coach Gareth Baber, recently won its third straight cup title of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series and with it their third Series title in five years.

Meanwhile, Japan successfully defended their Asian Sevens title when they took out the women's cup at the final event of the season in Sri Lanka.

Japan also won the Hong Kong leg of the three-leg Asian series.

“We are excited to see the finest teams in Asia heading to the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens in Rugbytown Sigatoka," said founding Chairman Jay Whyte. "With the next Olympic Games being in Tokyo 2020 we are sure to see a growth in the game in Asia so there has never been a better time for Fiji, the spiritual home of rugby sevens, to connect with our friends across the sea.”

Asia Rugby is targeting 1 million new rugby participants in the region by the time of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. 

Fijian-born Tomasi Lawa, captain Max Woodward and exciting newcomer Jason Jeyam are among the players to watch out for in the Hong Kong side who will use the trip to Fiji to build up for the international qualifier in Hong Kong in April.

"The series title secured Hong Kong’s place in the Hong Kong Sevens and and opportunity to qualify for the HSBC Sevens World Series," said Dai Rees, General Manager of Performance Rugby at the Hong Kong Rugby Union.  "We have won three tournaments on the bounce this season and this group has some quality and can help us get onto the HSBC Sevens World Series, which is where we want to go.

“Playing in a quality tournament such as the Mana Whey Coral Coast Sevens is vital for our preparation and those players that come to Fiji will go a step further in their rugby sevens education."

Hong Kong joins the national team of Germany, reigning champions Police, UON Central Coast Sevens runners up Uluinakau and sponsor teams Outrigger Beach Resort, Uprising Beach Resort, Shangri-La, BLK and Sigatoka River Safari Yamacia as in the 16-strong men's event.

Saunaka, Coastline Roos, Army and Taveuni are alsoconfirmed having qualified in the recent Final Four for local teams.

"We expect to finalise the remainder of the sides - men's and women's - very soon," added Whyte.  "Adding Hong Kong and Japan to the mix of local teams who are looking to impress the Fijian coaches is certain to create a world-class tournament.

"With the Japan women attending the Rio Olympics, and having captain Chiharu Nakamura, Mayu Shimizua and Marie Yamaguchi as seasoned performers on the world stage, it will be great to see them compete alongside Fijiana and the USA Selects in the Crest Na Iri Trophy.

“The game is growing in popularity in schools and universities in Japan and we look forward to witnessing that growth in January.”

The Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens, which was founded in 2010, is proudly supported by Goodman Fielder Fiji, Sigatoka River Safari, Tourism Fiji, Outrigger Beach Resort, Uprising Beach Resort, Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa, Crow's Nest Resort, Fiji Times, Viti FM and Fiji TV.

George Gregan 2017 Tournament Ambassador

George Gregan 2017 Tournament Ambassador

Australia’s most-capped Wallaby George Gregan (AM) has confirmed his attendance at the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens in January.

Gregan, who played 139 Test matches for Australia between 1994 and 2007, will be the Ambassador of Fiji's premier rugby sevens tournament and become the latest in a a long list of luminaries on the Rugbytown Walk of Fame in Sigatoka.

Joining Gregan in this experience will be his wife and family who are all looking forward to their Coral Coast adventure.

“After seeing the Fiji team destroy Great Britain in the final of the Olympic Games I was extremely happy to accept this invitation to the tournament," he said. "I visited Fiji not long after Rio 2016 and saw first-hand the incredible pride and happiness the win brought the people,

"Having seen the long list of players who have joined the Fiji team from the Coral Coast Sevens only confirms its status as arguably the toughest tournament outside of the world series”.

Jay Whyte, Founding Chairman of the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens, said:

“We are thrilled to welcome a living legend like George Gregan to our tournament and we are honoured that he has accepted our invitation to be with us for 2017.

"We are very excited that a player synonymous with the game of rugby will not only be our Tournament Ambassador but also join the legends of the game when we unveil his plaque on the world’s only Rugby Walk of Fame."

Previous inductees on the Walk of Fame, which includes a plaque on the main street of Sigatoka, are David Campese, Waisale Serevi, the late Jonah Lomu, Viliame Satala, Ben Gollings, Karl Te Nana and Lote Tuqiri.

The Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens is held from 18-21 January at Lawaqa Park and brings together 16 men's and 12 women's teams in a 'champion of champions' format and also features the Uprising Youth Sevens.

The tournament, which was founded in 2010, is proudly supported by Mana Whey, Crest, Sigatoka River Safari, Tourism Fiji, Outrigger Beach Resort, Uprising Beach Resort, Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa, Crow's Nest Resort, Fiji Times, Viti FM and Fiji TV

Rasta to return to Fiji's Coral Coast Sevens

Rasta to return to Fiji's Coral Coast Sevens

Fan favourite Rasta Rasivhenge will feature again at Fiji's Coral Coast Sevens in January.

The 30-year-old, who took charge of the Olympic Games gold medal match last month, first refereed in Fiji in 2014 and will be back for the tournament at Lawaqa Park on 18-21 January.

"I was overwhelmed with the support that I received my first time in Fiji and I can't wait to get back and be part of this special tournament," he said from South Africa. ”"The Coral Coast Sevens was tremendous back then and I really enjoyed it and I am sure the standard will be just as high this time around."

Rasivhenge had the whistle when Fiji thrashed Great Britain 43-7 to win the country's first-ever gold medal in Rio. Last October he became the youngest man to referee the Currie Cup Final in his home South Africa while this year he became a Super Rugby referee for the first time.

In July, Rasivhenge refereed his first Test match between Uganda and Namibia.

"The Olympics were definitely the highlight of my career and the Fijian performance in the final was simply outstanding," Rasivhenge continued. "There is nowhere on earth that plays sevens like Fiji and I am looking forward to getting back amongst the locals again.

"We are delighted to welcome back Rasta to the Coral Coast as he was a wonderful ambassador for the game back in 2014," said founding Chairman Jay Whyte. "The people of Fiji love the way he referees rugby sevens and he is an inspiration for the local referees and officials.

"We were excited when he was awarded the Olympic final and have no doubt he will continue to be among the best referees on the world circuit this season."

The Fiji Coral Coast Sevens, founded in 2010, is the 'champion of champions' for the Pacific Rim and features 16 men's and 16 women's teams contesting more than $70,000 in prizemoney. Teams from Australia, Asia, the USA and Europe have been invited to take on the best sides in Fiji at the seventh edition in January.

Police and TFL Fijiana are the defending champions of the senior tournament while Lelean MS is the reigning champion of the Uprising Schools Sevens.

Dates Announced for Fiji's Coral Coast Sevens

Dates Announced for Fiji's Coral Coast Sevens

Now in its seventh year, Fiji's premier sevens tournament draws men's, women's and schools teams from around the Pacific to Lawaqa Park in ‘Rugbytown’.

“The Fiji Coral Coast Sevens is the 'champion of champions' for the Pacific Rim and set to be another thrilling tournament in the electrifying new Olympic era,” said Jay Whyte, Founding Chairman. “With invitations being extended once again to the winners of partner tournaments the Samoa Independence Sevens, the Serevi Rugbytown Sevens USA and the UON Central Coast Sevens (NSW), as well as the best of the best from Fiji, the men's event is sure to have a fantastic field.”

Vaiala BBE won the Samoa Independence Sevens last weekend while the Sereivi Rugbytown Sevens is on August 26-28 and the UON Central Coast Sevens is October 22-23.

Defending champions Police, who last year beat Wardens 26-10, and TFL Fijiana 'Mokosoi', who defeated USA Serevi Selects 36-10 to win the Crest Na Iri Trophy for women, will be among the other teams on show.

“We were proud to become the first tournament to offer equal prize money for women this year and we look forward to continuing the sport’s growth on the back of the Olympic Games,” continued Whyte.  “We are also delighted to bring back the Uprising Schools Sevens for the second year."

Whyte said there had never been a better time to be involved in rugby sevens.

“We congratulate Fiji on becoming back-to-back world champions and like all Fijians are incredibly excited about rugby sevens being in the Olympics and Fiji’s chances in Rio. We are confident the Coral Coast Sevens In Sigatoka in 2017 will help produce new Olympic heroes for Fiji.”

Newly-crowned DHL Impact Player of the Year Jasa Veremalua is one such player.

The Korotogo native, then aged 24, won the Campese-Serevi Medal as the best player of the 2012 Coral Coast Sevens while representing Red Rock and was selected into the Fiji national team shortly after.

Veremalua has now played 24 world series tournaments for Fiji and scored 52 tries.

Others who have won the Campese-Serevi medal since it was inaugurated in 2011 are Joji Ragamate (Wardens, 2011), Mosese Mawalu (Yamacia, 2013), Ilisoni Tavaiqia (Police, 2014) and Sevanaia Nadruku (Police, 2016).

Women’s stars such as Fijiana speedster Lavenia Tinai, who claimed the Jonah Lomu Medal for top tryscorer in 2016, have graced Lawaqa Park in the four years of the women’s competition.

“The Fiji Coral Coast Sevens is recognised as being one of the toughest outside of the world series while still being fun, friendly and down to earth,” said Whyte. “It is one of the highlights of the year for teams, sponsors and visiting media and referees and 2017 will be no exception.”

After three years as title sponsor Bayleys Real Estate is not renewing and a new title sponsor will be announced in due course.

FIJI’S CORAL COAST SEVENS ROLL OF HONOUR

Men’s

2016 Police

2014 Police

2013 Yamacia

2012 Red Rock

2011 Wardens

2010 Red Rock

 

Women’s

2016 TFL Fijiana Mokosoi

2014 Aussie Pearls

2013 TFL Fijiana

2012 Aussie Pearls

Police Recapture Coral Coast Crown

Police Recapture Coral Coast Crown

Fiji's Police sevens team has made history in the i-wau final of the sixth Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens.

The lawmen became the first team to win consecutive tournaments with a 26-10 win over Wardens in front of a vocal Lawaqa Park crowd.

TFL Fijiana Mokosoi defeated USA Serevi Selects 36-10 to win the Crest Na Iri Trophy for women.

Both champions were awarded $20,000 in a first for women's rugby in Fiji.

Police captain Livai Ikanikoda said they were delighted with the result.

"We sacrificed during the festive season, we trained hard and that helped us go back to back," said the former national sevens rep. "We followed what our coach, Etonia Naba, told us and it was great to have Sevanaia Nadruku, the player of the tournament, in our squad.

"We hope Ben Ryan will pick some players from the Police after this result."

Ryan, the national coach, was sideline amongst a crowd of over 5,000 diehard fans in glorious Sigatoka weather.

Police reached the Cup final with an excellent defensive display in their semi against Tabadamu, winning 15-5, while Wardens' margin was even closer as they beat Coastal Ratu Filise 7-5.

Although Sevuloni Tawake opened the scoring for Wardens in the decider, the more experienced Police team soon dominated with four unanswered tries.

Kini Douglas, Kepeni Paul, Meli Kurisaru and Timoci Ratulolo crossed for the boys in blue, and despite losing Manueli Lagai with a red card, they held Wardens to one further consolation try.

Sevanaia Nadruku was awarded the Campese-Serevi Medal for player of the tournament by the Maestro himself, Waisale Serevi, and TFL Fijiana speedster Lavenia Tinai won the Jonah Lomu Medal for top tryscorer with seven.

Guest of honour Lote Tuqiri, the former Wallaby, presented the latter prize.

In the women's final the Mokosoi selection, featuring Tinai, Asinate Savu and Tima Ravisa, were comfortable winners over the visitors. Tinai (2), Ravisa (2), Savu and Mateiwai were the tryscorers.

Earlier, Mokosoi had beaten the Aussie Pearls development side 24-19 while Serevi Selects overpowered Tagimoucia, the other TFL Fijiana selection, winning 32-7.

BLK First Landing, Yamacia, Red Rock, Striders and the Central Chiefs were winners of the minor trophies.

The dates of the next Coral Coast Sevens will be finalised later this month.


RESULTS FROM SHANGRI LA SATURDAY at the BAYLEYS FIJI CORAL COAST SEVENS
I-wau
Police 26 Wardens 10

Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort Plate
BLK First Landing 33 Aussie Thunderbolts 17

Tourism Fiji Bowl
Yamacia 19 Shipping Service Suva Stallions 5

Coastal Shield
Hideaway 12 Red Rock 7

Crest Na Iri Trophy
TFL Fijiana Mokosoi 36 USA Serevi Selects 10

TFL Women's Plate
Striders 17 NZ Raiders 12

Rainbow Cool Tech Women's Bowl
Mystic Knights 26 Central Chiefs II 0

Defending Champions March On At Lawaqa Park

Defending Champions March On At Lawaqa Park

The Aussie Pearls opened their defence of the Crest Na Iri Trophy in resounding style in Sigatoka on Friday.

As the 12-team women's competition got underway at the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens the young Aussies swept Pool Q with wins over Central Coast Chiefs II 43-0 and Striders 24-12.

"We're playing pretty well and it's a good start for us young girls to get two wins on the board," said captain Gemma Etheridge. "It's always tough coming over to Fiji as it's a different type of rugby and very physical.

The visitors, who feature three recent Commonwealth Youth Games gold medalists, handled the hot, muggy conditions with aplomb.

"Everyone has gelled together and played really well today and they are coming along," added Etheridge.

The USA Serevi Selects and the TFL Fijiana squad, split into Mokosoi and Tagamoucia selections, all went undefeated in Pools R, S and T respectively.

With a $20,000 first prize there is plenty to play for at Lawaqa Park however many of the participants already have one eye on Rio 2016.

“It's definitely very exciting as there is a lot to look forward to and we can't wait to get out there in a few months," said Etheridge. "This tournament is all part of getting us ready and fit for Rio.”

Meanwhile, four local teams will contest the $20,000 men's first prize.

Defending champion Police face Tabadamu and surprise package Coastal Ratu Filise meet 2011 champions Wardens in the semi finals.

Ratu Filise, inspired by the presence of famous son Lote Tuqiri, came from behind three times to beat the Aussie Thunderbolts 26-24.

Captain Leveni Tani bagged three tries, two of them runaways, while Noa Tuqiri, cousin of the former Wallaby, scored the matchwinner after the hooter had sounded.

Tom Lucas (2), Matthew Gonzales and Henry Hutchison crossed for Aussie's four tries as the visitors looked to have won the match, leading 24-14 with two minutes to play.

However, Tani's third try closed the gap to three points and a late tackle called by former Sevens World Series referee James Bolabiau gave the Namatakula team an opportunity, which Tuqiri duly took.

Earlier, Hutchison had scored perhaps the try of the tournament in a length of the field effort, combining with Tom Merritt and Sam Figg for a score that was exhausting just to watch.

Police's Meli Kurisaru scored twice as they defeated BLK First Landing, who fielded Fiji stars Aisake Katonibau and Emosi Mulevoro, 22-12 before Tabadumu beat Uluinakau 14-5 in a low-scoring contest.

Wardens winger Filipo Daugunu showed his speed with a double as the lawmen beat Westfield Dragons 24-21 in the last quarter final.

The results continue to underline the strength of rugby sevens in Fiji with no overseas team yet to make it past the quarter finals in the six years of the tournament.

Play kicks off on Shangri-La Saturday at 0900 with all the action streamed on my.tfl.com.fj

RESULTS FROM THE BAYLEYS FIJI CORAL COAST SEVENS

Men's
Quarter Finals
Police 22 BLK FIrst Landing 12
Tabadamu 14 Uluinakau 5
Coastal Ratu Filise 26 Aussie Thunderbolts 24
Wardens 24 Westfield Dragons 21

Pool A
Police 33 Shangri-La Daveta 7
Wesfield Dragons 35 Germany 14

Pool B
Aussie Thunderbolts 21 Outrigger 7
Uluinakau 19 Uprising 12

Pool C
Tabadamu 17 Hideaway Hurricanes 7
Coastal Ratu Filise 17 Yamacia 7

Pool D
Shipping Service Suva Stallions 17 Red Rock 14
Wardens 19 BLK First Landing 5

Women's CREST NA IRI TROPHY
Pool Q
Striders 42 Central Chiefs II 0
Aussie Pearls 43 Central Chiefs II 0
Aussie Pearls 24 Striders 12

Pool R
NZ Raiders 17 Marist Sea Hawks 5
USA Serevi Selects 19 Marist Sea Hawks 0
USA Serevi Selects 15 NZ Raiders 0

Pool S
Nadi Blazers 15 Mystic Knights 5
TFL Mokosoi 21 Nadi Blazers 0
TFL Mokosoi 54 Mystic Knights 0

Pool T
Central Chiefs 33 Coastline Roos 7
TFL Tagamoucia 21 Central Chiefs 10
TFL Tagamoucia 40 Coastline Roos 0

Aussies Keep Pace In Sigatoka Heat

Aussies Keep Pace In Sigatoka Heat

Defending champions Police, 2011 winners Wardens and the Aussie Thunderbolts are the teams to beat after day one of the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens.

Two rounds were played on TFL Thursday in the searing heat at Lawaqa Park.

Police, captained by Livai Ikanakoda, beat Germany 21-7 before edging Westfield Dragons 17-14 and will face Shangri-La Daveta, the team they beat in last year's final, in their final Pool A match tomorrow.

A young Wardens team conceded only one try as they trounced Red Rock 29-0 and Shipping Services Suva Stallions 31-5 in Pool D while the Aussie Thunderbolts, also a development side, were too good for Uluinakau 19-12 and Uprising Beach Resort 26-5 in Pool B.

Former Wallaby Lote Tuqiri was impressed with both Wardens and his countrymen.

"The Thunderbolts will be up there over the next couple of days although you never know," he said. "The young guys are wanting to impress so they will be having a massive experience here in Fiji.

"Marmin Barba, a league convert, is one of them and it will be interesting to see how he goes tomorrow and on finals day."

Tuqiri said the experience at the tournament in front of a raucous local crowd was invaluable.

"It is a great testing ground for guys to see if they are any good as it's a test of character, aerobic ability, physicality and everything else," he continued. "The atmosphere supporting some of the local teams is scary."

Coastal Ratu Filise, from Tuqiri's home village of Namatakula, and Hideaway Hurricanes featuring Nemani Nagusa, played the match of the day in Pool C with Hideaway triumphing 12-10.

With Tabadamu and Filise earlier battling out a 12-12 draw that group is wide open.

"It's a great standard which got better as the day progressed and I'm loving being here," said Tuqiri.

Germany, who has travelled the furthest as part of their preparation for qualification tournaments in Hong Kong and Monaco later in 2016, found the going tough.

"Playing against opponents like this you don't have time to switch off and we did that a couple of times today and teams made us pay," said coach Chad Shepherd.

Shepherd said the tournament was about experience.

"We have given a few young guys a chance as we left three or four guys at home so the composition for Hong Kong is up for grabs," he continued. "Fiji has been great with the hospitality and the level of rugby fantastic although the hot weather is a shock to the system! 

"We're really looking forward to tomorrow."

An estimated 2000 people enjoyed TFL Thursday and large crowds are expected over the next two days.

The women's Crest Na Iri Trophy starts tomorrow.

 

RESULTS FROM TFL THURSDAY at the BAYLEYS FIJI CORAL COAST SEVENS

Pool A

Westfield Dragons 21 Shangri-La Daveta 5
Police 21 Germany 7
Police 17 Westfield Dragons 14
Shangri-La Daveta 14 Germany 7

Pool B
Uluinakau 12 Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort 7
Aussie Thunderbolts 26 Uprising Beach Resort 5
Aussie Thunderbolts 19 Uluinakau 12
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort 21 Uprising Beach Resort 7

Pool C
Yamacia 7 Hideaway Hurricanes 5
Tabadamu 12 Coastal Ratu Filise 12
Tabadamu 17 Yamacia 5
Hideaway Hurricanes 12 Coastal Ratu Filise 10

Pool D
Wardens 29 Red Rock 0
BLK First Landing 24 Shipping Service Suva Stallions 15
Wardens 31 Shipping Service Suva Stallions 5
BLK First Landing 15 Red Rock 5

Tuqiri Stars Ahead Of Coral Coast Sevens

Tuqiri Stars Ahead Of Coral Coast Sevens

Local legend Lote Tuqiri has launched the sixth edition of the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens.

The Namatakula native presented the Lote Tuqiri Medal to Nailati Ukelele, the player of the tournament of the Uprising Schools Sevens, and was unveiled on the Walk of Fame in Sigatoka before addressing VIPs and sponsors at the official opening atthe Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort.

"Coming from the Coral Coast it is always nice to visit home and being asked to join several legends of the game on the Walk of Fame is a real honour," said the dual international. "Rugby sevens is a game that players of all backgrounds can enjoy and it really suits the Fijian flair. 

"The growth of the game has been fantastic during the last ten to fifteen years and I am really looking forward to seeing sevens in the Olympic Games in Rio."

Tuqiri, who played for Fiji at the 2000 rugby league world cup before switching codes and going on to win 67 caps for the Wallabies, joins Waisale Serevi, David Campese, Jonah Lomu, Ben Gollings, Viliame Satala and Karl te Nana on the Hollywood-style series of plaques on the town's main street.

Serevi was in attendance today having arrived from the USA this morning.

"We are thrilled to add one of the Coral Coast's famous sons to the Walk of Fame," said Jay Whyte, Founding Chairman of the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens. "Lote has achieved so much in his career in both rugby union and rugby league and is an inspiration to the youngsters of his village and in fact to all the people of Fiji. 

"The addition of the inaugural Uprising School Sevens, which saw the best schools team in Fiji, is a wonderful opportunity for these youngsters and it is fantastic the Lote Tuqiri Rising Star Medal was presented to the player of the tournament by Lote Tuqiri himself."

Lelean MS won the tournament defeating Tuva 17-14 in a thrilling final. 

Lelean made the final with a 17-5 win over Lomary in the last four while Tuva defeated Uprisng Academy 24-0 in their semi.

The Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens kicks off on TFL Thursday at Lawaqa Park.

International teams include the Aussie Thunderbolts, featuring another cross-code convert Marmin Barba, and Germany, who are preparing for a tilt at both HSBC Sevens World Series and Olympic qualification, headline the 16-team men's section.

Recent national debutants Stephan van der Walt and Henry Hutchison and newly contracted Sam Figg will also feature for the Thunderbolts.

However, the local teams are expected to dominate, including Red Rock, Wardens, Yamacia and defending champion Police, who are all former winners of the tournament and Uluinakau and Westfield Dragons who have also shown recent form.

Numerous players are vying for national selection under the watchful eye of coach Ben Ryan, including William Ryder, the twinkle-toed star of past national sides, who returns for Red Rock.

The tournament carries a first prize of $FJ20,000.

Meanwhile, the 12 teams in the Crest Na Iri Trophy for women will also vie for $20,000 in a first for Fiji.

"This year we are extremely happy to announce that we will be the first major event to have equal prizemoney for the men's and women's divisions," continued Whyte.

"With women's sevens in the Olympic Games, and Fiji being a world leader in the sport, it is only fitting that we recognise the development of the game."

The Aussie Pearls, although a young side being captained by Gemma Etheridge, are favoured to retain their title.

The Pearls dominated the UON Central Coast Sevens in October before the full squad won the opening round of the women's sevens world series in Dubai.

In their way will be TFL Fijiana who has split their national training squad into two teams – Tagimoucia and Mokosai – as well as fellow overseas teams USA Serevi Selects and NZ Raiders.

“We can’t wait to get back to Fiji and the spiritual home of sevens,” said Etheridge. “In an Olympic year all the girls will be pushing for spots and the Coral Coast Sevens is a great tournament to test ourselves.

“While the games are hard, the hospitality of the Fijian people is something special and we all have some amazing friends in rugby through our previous visits to Sigatoka.”

The men's tournament kicks off at 10am tomorrow, the women's event starts on Friday and finals for both competitions are played on Shangri-La Saturday.

All matches will be streamed live outside of Fiji on mytfl.com.fj

POOLS FOR THE BAYLEYS FIJI CORAL COAST SEVENS
A: Germany, Police, Shangri-La Daveta, Westfield Dragons
B: Aussie Thunderbolts, Outrigger Beach Resort, Uluinakau, Uprising Beach Resort
C: Coastal Ratu Filise, Hideaway Hurricanes, Tabadamu, Yamacia
D: BLK First Landing, Red Rock, Shipping Services Suva Stallions, Wardens

POOLS FOR THE CREST NA IRI TROPHY
Q: Aussie Pearls, Central Chiefs 2, Striders
R: Marist Seahawks, NZ Raiders, USA Serevi Selects
S: Mystic Knights, Nadi Blazers, TFL Fijiana Mokosai
T: Central Chiefs 1, Coastline Roos, TFL Fijiana Tagimoucia

POOLS DRAWN FOR FIJI'S CORAL COAST SEVENS

POOLS DRAWN FOR FIJI'S CORAL COAST SEVENS

Defending champions Police face a mammoth challenge to retain next week’s Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens.

The top seed has been drawn with local rivals Westfield Dragons and Shangri-La Daveta and guest team Germany in Pool A of the tournament which starts on Thursday in Sigatoka.

Meanwhile, the Aussie Pearls side is the top women’s seed and starts their Crest Na Iri Trophy defence against Jingsu (China) and Striders (Fiji) in Pool Q.

Founded in 2010, the Coral Coast Sevens' 'champion of champions' strategy brings together the best club teams from Fiji and guest sides from overseas while in a significant statement of equality for the new Olympic sport the women's prizemoney is identical to that of the men.

Both genders play for a first prize of $20,000 over three days of intense competition at Lawaqa Park.

Westfield, along with Uluinakau, Yamacia and Wardens, won a place in the Coral Coast Sevens when they beat Coastal Ratu Filise 31-7 last month in one of four qualifying tournaments. Wardens (2011) and Yamacia (2013) are both previous champions of the tournament underlining the quality of the field.

Similarly, the Aussie Thunderbolts arrive as one of the favourites having won the Coral Coast's partner tournament, the UON Central Coast Sevens in NSW, in October.

The shadow national team, whose best performance in Sigatoka was a quarter final in 2012, headlines Pool B where Uluinakau and sponsor teams Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort and Uprising Beach Resort join them.

In-form Tabadamu meets Ratu Filise, Yamacia and the Hideaway Hurricanes, another sponsor team, in Pool C.

The Suva club, under stalwart Setefano Cakau, qualified with a victory in another partner tournament, the Samoan Independence Sevens, back in May. Further titles have followed this season while they also defeated Sir Gordon Tietjens' New Zealand development side in making the final on the Central Coast.

Pool D sees Wardens against BLK First Landing, the Naviti Resort and the third international team, Tonga. 

Wardens is another form team having qualified by winning their own tournament at the end of October and claiming both the Macuata 7s and the Yalovata 7s in November. 

On the women's side, the Pearls are seeded to meet Tonga in the last eight with the latter drawn against TFL Fijiana Tagimoucia, the Central Chiefs and the Coastline Roosters.

TFL Fijiana, winners of the tournament in 2013, has been split into two teams to give coaches Chris Cracknell and Iliesa Tanivula the opportunity to work with a wider squad.

Regular visitors the USA Serevi Selects and the New Zealand Raiders are the other overseas teams and are matched, along with 2012 runners up Marist Sea Hawks, in Pool B.

A record nine teams from Fiji take part in the women's competition with the two vacancies expected to be filled by further local teams this week.

Both the I-wau Trophy and the Crest Na Iri Trophy feature pool matches on Thursday andFriday with the top eight going through to the Cup quarter finals on Friday evening.

The complete pool play schedule is available by clicking here.

CREST NA IRI TROPHY TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT!

CREST NA IRI TROPHY TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT!

Here are the Women's teams competing for the Crest Na Iri Trophy:

  • Aussie Pearls (Winners 2014 Coral Coast Sevens)
  • Telecom Fijiana Mokosai
  • Telecom Fijiana Tagimoucia
  • USA Serevi Selects
  • Tonga
  • NZ Raiders
  • China Jingsu
  • Central Chiefs 1
  • Central Chiefs 2
  • Lady Baabaas (Labasa)
  • Marist Seahawks
  • Mystic Knights
  • Nadi Blazers
  • Savusavu
  • Striders 
  • TBC - applications open

See you 14-16 January 2016 at Lawaqa Park!

HOT OFF THE PRESS! TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT

HOT OFF THE PRESS! TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT

With Westfield Dragons filling the last remaining spot at the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens we can now announce the teams competing for the I-WAU trophy:

  • Police (Winners 2014 Coral Coast Sevens)
  • Aussie Thunderbolts (Winners Central Coast Sevens 2015)
  • Tabadamu (Winners Samoan Independence Sevens)
  • Uluinakau (Winner Qualifying #1)
  • Yamacia (Winner Qualifying #2)
  • Wardens (Winner Qualifying #3)
  • Westfield Dragons (Winner Qualifying #4)
  • Tonga
  • Germany
  • BLK First Landing
  • Coastal Ratu Filise
  • Hideaway
  • Naviti
  • Outrigger
  • Shangri-La Daveta
  • Uprising

See you all 14-16 January 2016 at Lawaqa Park!