Tuesday 22 October 2019
New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) search for sevens superstars has once again unearthed an impressive crop of diverse and talented athletes for the second edition of Red Bull Ignite7.
Teams Inferno, Bolt, Surge and Power will be back in action next month, with NZR today unveiling the 96 athletes (48 males, 48 females) who will compete at Red Bull Ignite7 2019 from November 20 to 23 at Trusts Arena in Waitakere.
Representative netballers, nationally ranked Surf Life Savers, and New Zealand Secondary Schools water polo and rugby players are among those named to compete for six guaranteed places at the 2020 New Zealand Sevens Development Camps.
Among the athletes classified by the selectors as ‘new to rugby’ in 2019 are NZ Youth Water Polo player Ronan Gogarty-Watson, World Rowing Championship silver medalist Ben Taylor, and national sprint sensation Edward Osei-Nketia.
Osei-Nketia will attend Red Bull Ignite7 in a non-playing capacity after returning from the World Athletics Championships in Doha, as he continues to keep his rugby options open alongside his athletics career.
The women’s squads include 2019 Northern Mystics netballer Grace Kukutai, 2019 Bay of Plenty and Coromandel Surf Life Saving Under 19 female Sportsperson of the Year Alicia Wilson, and Under 21 New Zealand women’s hockey representative Kiriana Wairau-Hunter.
More than 500 applicants from around New Zealand registered their interest in this year’s event, which NZR High Performance Sevens Talent Development Manager, Chad Tuoro, said was a testament to the success of the inaugural event in 2018 and the growing popularity of sevens.
“From a high-performance point of view we were thrilled with the success of last year’s event and it has been exciting to see a number of players from 2018 make significant progress in their sevens careers.”
That success included newly-contracted All Blacks Sevens player, Jacob Kneepkens, who was one of the six players at Red Bull Ignite7 2018 to claim a place at the 2019 New Zealand Sevens Development Camps.
“Now in year two, we’re again blown away by the response and by the calibre and diverse sporting backgrounds of the athletes who have thrown their hat in the ring,” said Tuoro. “It definitely made for a tough job for our selectors.”
Viewers will also recognise some familiar faces as a number of last year’s participants re-join their teams in the hope of securing a spot in the 2020 New Zealand Sevens Development Camps, including Mitre 10 Cup Magpies player Tyrone Dodd-Edwards and Auckland Storm representative Isla Norman-Bell.
Red Bull Ignite7 is back as New Zealand Rugby (NZR) continues the search for the next All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens superstars in 2019.
NZR is inviting young New Zealand athletes aged between 16 and 20 years-old to enter the game and register at www.redbullignite7.co.nz from today.
A total of 48 male and 48 female athletes will be selected to take part in the event at The Trusts Arena, Waitakere, from 20 – 24 November, where they will compete for six places at the 2020 New Zealand Sevens Development Camps.
Designed to earmark new talent, the unique five-day event includes an intensive NFL-style combine which will test athlete’s fitness and skill level, as well as an action-packed one-day sevens tournament which will be televised live on SKY Sport.
NZR Head of High Performance Mike Anthony said he expected Red Bull Ignite7 2019 to hold wide appeal to current players as well as non-rugby athletes looking to make an impact in sevens.
“Ignite7 provides young athletes with the opportunity to be part of an event which could see a career in sevens take off, regardless of their sporting background. We’re looking for strong, fast and agile talent so we’re encouraging anyone who thinks they have what it takes to play sevens to register.”
Anthony said as well as the three male and three female athletes that secured spots in the 2019 Sevens Development Camps, it was exciting to see a number of athletes from 2018 making significant steps in their sevens careers.
Wings Montessa Tairakena and Mahina Paul both secured contracts with the Black Ferns Sevens for the 2019 season, while sevens newcomers William Warbrick and Jacob Kneepkens made the All Blacks Sevens Development squad.
“The achievements of these players is testimony to the success of the event, and we’re looking forward to seeing what new talent this year’s search will unearth as we look to the next big pinnacle event in 2024.”
Team Inferno, Bolt, Surge and Power will be back again this year, as the 96 athletes are split into four men’s and four women’s teams. Viewers might see some familiar faces as a number of last year’s participants re-join their teams in the hope of securing a spot in the 2020 New Zealand Sevens Development Camps.
Over the coming months, NZR’s High Performance Sevens coaches and trainers will evaluate applications before selecting the final teams.
Although the tournament is aimed at under-20s, NZR has left one place in each of the eight teams open for non-rugby athletes who are under 23-years-old. Those players must prove they have not registered to play rugby for at least five years.