Bigger, Better & Richer: Best of the best set to return for 2020 Kiama 7s

By Finn Morton

The Kiama Showgrounds will again host Australia’s largest club sevens competition in 2020 as teams from across NSW and the ACT travel to the oceanside venue to compete for $35,000 prize money, trophies and of course, bragging rights.

Starting at 8:30 am on the 29th of February, the annual Kiama Sevens will kick-off it’s 48th year with pool play across four divisions.

All teams must follow the strict club only policy which has worked wonders for the event, generating more interest and passion that has made it an event to remember for the thousands who attend every year.

With the anticipation and crowd numbers growing year-to-year, Tournament Director Mark Bryant can’t wait for what promises to be another record-breaking day in the regional town.

“You’ve got the Country Cup which is eight teams for men. You’ve also got the Bowl for men’s which is eight teams – that’s your subbies countrysides that miss out,” Bryant told Rugby News.

“Eight team Women’s Vase, that’s your main comp for the women. Then we’ve got a Country Cup for the women which is a four-team comp and that’s full as well. Since the first we’ve now got sixteen men’s sides for the main comp.

“When we started removing the International rep sides and the composite sides, clubs are getting the prize money. We’ve had a couple composite sides sneak under the radar but we’ve come down on them really hard, unless you’ve got clearance.

“But if you do win prize money, it goes back to the clubs. We transfer money back to the clubs, not to the actual players on the day.”

“Forty-eight years next year, so we’re not the longest comp in Australia I think that that’s the Elizabeth Sevens in South Australia, but we’re definitely the biggest senior competition for clubs. The Southern Highlands Sevens, it’s certainly got more teams but it’s junior and composite, we’re strictly clubs.”

Shute Shield clubs have upped the ante on their Sevens programs over the last few years, now seeing it as a viable pre-season option heading into a new campaign.

“Manly and Gordon, West Harbour is going really well. It’s an even comp. You’ve got Box Hill from Victoria, they’re back in, they missed out last year just because they didn’t nominate in time but they were the second club to nominate so they’re back.

“It’s a really even comp. You have four groups of four, you’ve got to win your group to go through to the semis. It’s a tough day.

“Gordon with Darren Coleman, and I think they’ve got James Stannard out there helping out with Gordon with the Sevens program. You’ve got Mike Ruthven who is at Warringah, he’s a Sevens player as well.

“Pauli Taumoepeau from Easts, he’s done a really good job and Southern Districts are in for the first time in about four years. I know Todd Louden so I had a bit of a yack with him and he can see the benefit in coming down and looking at all the countrysides so that’s good.

Bryant is equally proud as he is excited about the uniqueness of Kiama with Shute Shield teams set to play alongside country clubs like Molong, Jindabyne and the Grenfell Panthers.

He added that event organisers are prepared for what promises to be an eventful day, with the tournament expecting an atmosphere similar to the world’s biggest sevens event.

“We’re in the perfect situation, a couple of hours from Sydney, a couple of hours from Canberra and then the countrysides just like travelling down because they’re next to the beach.

“We’re trying to get a more younger crowd there now to make it like the Hong Kong Sevens, we’ve been doing some work on that.

“We’ll have Wally the Wallaby from Rugby Australia there next year, have a helicopter landing again to bring in the trophies. We get about three-thousand through the gates plus all the teams so it’s quite a big day. We’re also streaming again. It’s all falling into place.”