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The future of the Men's 7s program

barbarian

Phil Kearns (64)
Staff member
I think this deserves its own thread, branching off from the Olympics discussion.

It's clear that our men's 7s program needs a new approach. Despite a lot of effort, we continue to be a middling 7s team. We might pop up and win a tournament every few years, but we will never be a major power.

The recent Olympic failure gives us a chance to start afresh, or abolish it completely.

The latter is unpalatable for a number of reasons, so let's put that to one side for the minute.

Given the chance to start again, what do we do? A few ideas:

- We turn it back into what it used to be, a youth development side with a few old veterans holding it together. Take good young players who might not be quite ready for Super Rugby (eg Mark N (Nawaqanitawase)) and give them a few years of professional development and hope they turn into the next Bernard Foley or Sean McMahon.

- It becomes an Indigenous team. Mo Longbottom captains. Indigenous jersey and team name. Their own unique identity on and off the field. Also an outreach/mentoring opportunity.

Just off the top of my head. What have we got to lose? At the moment we're getting very little out of the system, why not roll the dice?
 

eastman

Bill McLean (32)
I don’t mind the latter option for a number of reasons including some that are somewhat cynical.

If we accept that results are always going to be secondary- why not go for an all indigenous approach; it would be great marketing, it might even be easier to save on wages across the squad and you may occasionally identify some top talent.

Not sure the Mosman/ traditional country brigade would ever allow/ or even contemplate considering it though.
 

The_Brown_Hornet

Phil Kearns (64)
Turn it into a development team I reckon. We've never really excelled in this form of the game but it nonetheless has its uses.
 

WorkingClassRugger

David Codey (61)
I tend to think what we should be doing is looking to better commercialise the 7s format. At present it barely rates as a high performance program nor one that has been hugely fruitful in terms of development for the professional arm. And frankly, that's reflected in the results and notably the attitudes of the players on the field.

I think what is needed is a proper domestic/regional structure involving the franchises and ideally NZ/PI and even Asian Unions providing something that can be bundled and sold as an entertainment product as a means of better (or you know actually trying to) commercialise 7s as a means of creating a professional base that provides a competitive base in which to selected the national team from. As opposed to these single squads that lock in players and provide little incentive to perform.

I'm aware there are the usual issues of money and funding. Perhaps something like this could be bundled as part of private equity deal but I genuinely think we need to start treating 7s as another potential product that the game can sell. Not one that we need to sell out 50k stadiums. But something that allows us to target younger guys/girls out of school and provide them with solid professional development opportunities beyond the World Series against higher quality opposition than just club footy. One that then feeds into selection for the national squad based on their performance. Just some thoughts on the matter.
 

waiopehu oldboy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
I can't recall which review it was, there's been so many in recent years, but NZR commissioned PWC or someone like them to do a cost/ benefit analysis of the 7's programs & what they found was it's pretty much a loss leader but overall worthwhile as it gets your brands in front of people who otherwise wouldn't see it e.g. Asia (OK, China), Latin America & Middle East. Was obviously pre-Covid & not all that post-GFC but it laid some foundations that the NZ7's programs are now (or were pre-Covid) benefiting from. So maybe the Aus7's needs to be looked at as a medium- to long term project rather than "Gold Medals Tomorrow". There are obviously financial constraints but Rugby Australia would imo be mad to drop the programs altogether.
 

wamberal

Phil Kearns (64)
Turn it into a development team I reckon. We've never really excelled in this form of the game but it nonetheless has its uses.

We reached the final of the first World Cup, and had the game won when Andrew Harriman scorched Campo to score the winning try. We have won the series a few times over the years. But we don't have enough Fijians.:)
 

WorkingClassRugger

David Codey (61)
I think this deserves its own thread, branching off from the Olympics discussion.

It's clear that our men's 7s program needs a new approach. Despite a lot of effort, we continue to be a middling 7s team. We might pop up and win a tournament every few years, but we will never be a major power.

The recent Olympic failure gives us a chance to start afresh, or abolish it completely.

The latter is unpalatable for a number of reasons, so let's put that to one side for the minute.

Given the chance to start again, what do we do? A few ideas:

- We turn it back into what it used to be, a youth development side with a few old veterans holding it together. Take good young players who might not be quite ready for Super Rugby (eg Mark N (Nawaqanitawase)) and give them a few years of professional development and hope they turn into the next Bernard Foley or Sean McMahon.

- It becomes an Indigenous team. Mo Longbottom captains. Indigenous jersey and team name. Their own unique identity on and off the field. Also an outreach/mentoring opportunity.

Just off the top of my head. What have we got to lose? At the moment we're getting very little out of the system, why not roll the dice?


Either one of those options would be fine. Perhaps a blend of the two.
 

Adam84

Steve Williams (59)
Yes combine the two concept, use it as a development tool like it used to be with the Foleys and Gills, but place a greater emphasis on indigenous players. 7’s is an easier product to sell in indigenous communities and regional areas where they mightn’t have 15 players for a team, or players who dont understand or care for the nuances of a scrum and lineout.

As those U20s players inevitably more onto Super Rugby/Wallabies, they’ll have the grounding in 7’s to be able to recall for big events like 7s World Cup/Commonwealth Games etc.
 

kiap

Andrew Slack (58)
start afresh, or abolish it completely.

The latter is unpalatable for a number of reasons
One of those non-abolish reasons is that you essentially lose Tier 1 status otherwise - by which I mean the union loses its 3rd vote at World Rugby level - based on the checklist below.

This is the reason why Ireland, who didn't bother running creditable sevens programs for many years, suddenly started funding national 7s teams (and doing well).

  • qualified for two consecutive Rugby World Cups within last eight-year assessment period
  • have an annual audited average investment in rugby of £20 million over the last four years
  • have bid to host major World Rugby events over last eight years or who are bidding for a World Rugby event in next four years
  • have a sustainable women's programme with participation in the Women's Rugby World Cup or qualifiers in the past eight years
  • have men's and women's sevens programmes – reflected by a minimum participation in regional competitions and or the World Rugby Sevens Series (men's and women's)
 

Pfitzy

Jason Little (69)
- It becomes an Indigenous team. Mo Longbottom captains. Indigenous jersey and team name. Their own unique identity on and off the field. Also an outreach/mentoring opportunity.


That's a good idea. I think they could make that into something special as a recruitment vehicle into ATSI communities, and it would help the funding angle.

The latter is particularly important as we'll get fuck all from the AOC without a medal at this point. Rugby Australia have no money, so go grab some ATSIbucks to drive it.

The downsides:
1) How do we structure it to avoid claims of discrimination?
2) What does the women's side of things look like in this circumstance?

Onto the larger problem - I think we need to accept that it is a distinct game with a difference set of skills to XVs, and have a serious look at a national 7s competition to ensure the best talent is getting a shot. Hopefully with some television rights money to back it.

It is an Olympic sport and we can't keep relying on castoffs to fill gaps or move between codes.
 

Tomikin

Steve Williams (59)
- It becomes an Indigenous team. Mo Longbottom captains. Indigenous jersey and team name. Their own unique identity on and off the field. Also an outreach/mentoring opportunity.

I think this is a great idea with a mixture of youth development players, but indigenous jersey team name focus on indigenous talent with a few development players thrown in make them have to be under 21's

If not make them the first nation team, Id get out and support them.
 

PhilClinton

Peter Johnson (47)
I’m not sure you can go half in and blend the two concepts of both a development team and an Indigenous team.

What happens if your 4 best players happen to be the non-indigenous development players and play the bulk of the minutes at most tournaments? Would mean more than half the team on the field is non-indigenous and suddenlyn you open yourself up to problems with the whole concept of the team and criticism etc. it may not be fair but that’s the current landscape with these sort of things.

Nothing wrong with pushing the 7s program heavily in Indigenous communities but I think they would need to stop short of making it an actual Indigenous team if they plan on including other players.
 

Rebel man

Bob Davidson (42)
Look at what the Boomers do the big names don’t play most of the time when they are at Olympic qualifiers but come the big tournaments we play our very best
 

liquor box

John Thornett (49)
- It becomes an Indigenous team. Mo Longbottom captains. Indigenous jersey and team name. Their own unique identity on and off the field. Also an outreach/mentoring opportunity.

This is a poor idea, surely you cannot actively stop people playing a game they love because of their heritage and not be anything but discrimination?

Does this mean that only Indigenous people can play at a lower level? Can non Indigenous kids play 7's at school and never have to opportunity to compete at the highest level?

Would you be able to play if you are a mixture of cultures or would you have to be full blood Indigenous?
 

KOB1987

Nick Farr-Jones (63)
Yes, if we make the national 7s team an indigenous only team, believe it or not that’s racism. It’s an Olympic sport. Sure, have an indigenous development arm, but every Australian is eligible for selection.
 

Pfitzy

Jason Little (69)
Indigenous jerseys tho - that is a given. I think we should have that kind of representation on every national jersey TBH.

Sydney Harlequins in Subbies had an indigenous jersey printed and it was ace.
 

RugbyReg

Rocky Elsom (76)
Staff member
yeah, I like it in a very conceptual way, but it wouldn't work. Name me a squad of 10 indigenous players you could pick?

THey'd get smashed most tournaments and I'm not covinced that's a good thing.

Working Class Rugger hit on it - some sort of national comp or more of a tournament structure. It was said they would replicate the AON 7s model with the men and they should. Work with media partners etc on the right model. Apparently World Rugby are seriously looking on a more TV friendly model (think the Oceania model recently in Townsville). If we had a comp like that then I'd definitely have an ATSI team in that.

As well as players such as Longbottom and Pietsch. Then perhaps the Oates brothers and Jangala Bennet perhaps. Not sure who else. Triston Reilly? Get Harrison Goddard back? I think at that level, its something that can evolve into more regular ATSI players at the top level. It is worth noting we've had more ATSI players rep Australia at 7s than in the mens XV team.

As said elsewhere, for success at the top we should be embracing our Polynesian culture too. Every premier grade club has heaps of them - surely there's 7s player options there.
 

barbarian

Phil Kearns (64)
Staff member
Yeah I don't think you could do the indigenous idea. It's a nice aim but presents a few issues on both a logistical and conceptual level as some have pointed out.

However I think as a few have said we should actively try and increase our indigenous representation in 7s. It's a great gateway to the game and it suits the skills of a lot of our indigenous players.
 

Wilson

Tony Shaw (54)
Wouldn't mind seeing a tighter link to the super sides, maybe each squad has one or two places for a 7s PONI. Would run a bit like the u20s contracts in the past where they're with the super side when not needed for 7's duty but have to be released for any national 7's programs. Could work well for those 20s-ish development players who will do well in 7's but ultimately want to play 15's.
 

Rebel man

Bob Davidson (42)
This is a poor idea, surely you cannot actively stop people playing a game they love because of their heritage and not be anything but discrimination?

Does this mean that only Indigenous people can play at a lower level? Can non Indigenous kids play 7's at school and never have to opportunity to compete at the highest level?

Would you be able to play if you are a mixture of cultures or would you have to be full blood Indigenous?
Yes and no, the kiwis have the ABs and Maori ABs. I think we should have the aim to increase indigenous participation in rugby Union and a good way of doing that could be by having two 7’s squads. When we are at major tournaments like the Olympics obviously you can only enter one side and it should be your absolute best. But I wouldn’t mind seeing us build towards an Australian Aboriginal side on the World Series as well as our current sevens side
 
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