16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams will take the field in the two-day tournament which kicks off at Tauranga Domain tomorrow.
Teams will have their eye on the two national titles, while players will have the chance to put their hand up for selection for the 2020 All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens development camps.
New Zealand Rugby High Performance Talent Development Sevens Manager Chad Tuoro said the TECT National Sevens is crucial in the high performance talent identification process.
“I hope all the players taking the field this weekend are excited about the opportunities on offer. We have seen year after year, players that perform well on this stage graduate into our development teams and then onto our national teams. It’s a proven pathway and makes us, as selectors, excited about what we are going to see other the next two days," said Tuoro.
It’s not only emerging talent taking the field, with several members of the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads expected to turn out in their provincial colours.
The women’s competition is littered with talent including current and former Black Ferns Sevens players and current Black Ferns.
Particularly exciting is the return of Kayla Ahki (Auckland), the 2012/13 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, making her return to sevens after last playing for the Black Ferns Sevens at the end of 2017. Current Black Ferns Grace Brooker (Canterbury), Kilisitina Moata’ane (Otago) and Pia Tapsell (North Harbour) will bring excitement to their teams, while six current Black Ferns Sevens squad members will turn out for their respective Unions.
Reigning champions Manawatu again have a strong side, though are without stalwarts Sarah Hirini and Selica Winiata. They will face a tough challenge in Pool A from Counties Manukau, while Pool B looks to be the toughest with Northern Region champions Waikato, Southern Region champions and runners-up Canterbury and Tasman alongside Wellington. Hosts Bay of Plenty will be up against Auckland, Otago and North Harbour on Day One.
The 46th winner of the men’s national title will be crowned on Sunday with defending champion Tasman and perennial performers Waikato among the favourites.
Defending men’s champions, Tasman are Co-Captained by All Blacks Sevens player Trael Joass and last year’s Player of the Tournament James Lash. They’ll face Northern Region champions Waikato, Otago and South Canterbury in Pool B.
Six current and four former All Blacks Sevens players will take the field, expected to bring their experience and skill to their provincial colours.
Last year’s beaten finalists Counties Manukau have a tough pool assignment with Southern Region champions, Canterbury, Auckland and Wairarapa Bush to play on Day One.
Elsewhere, hosts Bay of Plenty, are searching for their first title and will come up against Taranaki, North Harbour and Manawatu on Day One, while Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Southland and Thames Valley make up Pool C.
Bay of Plenty CEO Mike Rogers said the Union are proud to host the tournament for the sixth year.
“We have 28 of the country's best men's and women's teams all vying for the crown of national champions. Rugby pundits both young and old will get the chance to see some exciting talent on display but the action isn't just on the field. We will have great food stalls and kids' entertainment to keep the entire whanau enthralled.
“The TECT National Sevens is a fantastic event to be involved with and we are exceptionally grateful for the valuable support we receive from our partners, TECT, Farmer Autovillage, Tauranga City Council More FM, Rugby Smart and NZCT to ensure the tournament is a success,” Rogers.
Click here to see Pools and Draw. Coverage this weekend is live on SKY Sports.