Australian captain and Wallaby great launch Kiama’s Rugby Sevens

Australian Sevens captain Lewis Holland launched the Morgans Kiama Sevens tournament on Thursday.

Tournament director Mark Bryant said he was thrilled to have the Australian captain launch this year’s tournament, which kicks-off Saturday, February 24.

i98 FM presenter Marty Haynes was MC for the function at The Sebel Harbourside, which was also attended by Wallaby great David Campese.

“Lewis is a great leader on the field and he’s also a fantastic ambassador for the game off the field as well,” Mr Bryant said.

“The Australian team, including coach Andy Friend, have been big supporters of the Morgans Kiama Sevens in recent years.”

Mr Bryant said Mr Holland had also lent his support by being the face of the 2018 year’s tournament, appearing in television promotions and social media.

This year 44 Australian Rugby Union teams will take part in the tournament, competing for more than $32,000 in prize money.

Mr Bryant said, as well as a full roster of teams taking part, the support of local business for the Kiama Sevens continued to grow.

“We were excited to recently have Morgans join us as the principal sponsor, but the range of individuals and organisations lending their support is very pleasing,” he said.

Holland said spectators will see plenty of drive and lots of running at the Kiama tournament. 

“There’s usually a few big hits, spectators will experience everything you do in a Rugby match, but it will be a lot quicker,” he said.

“The boys from Grenfell tend to put on a show with their jerseys and everyone comes down to support them, I think it took them two days to get down and eight days to get home once.”

When asked about the difference between training for a Rugby Sevens and a regular Rugby match, Holland said “there’s a lot of difference”. 

“The high intensity running and the back-to-back effort – that’s where it’s a lot different,” he said.

Campese agreed, saying the fitness required from players was vastly different.

“They run at a different pace, but also, the most important thing is to have that vision and skill, and the opportunity to back yourself and be fast and that’s what people want to see,” he said. 

“You want to see the small guys against the big guys, stand them up and score, sevens gives you that, it gives you the opportunity to try things.

“Fifteens is so structured these days, so that’s why I think it is a great sport. We really need to build on the success the sevens have had the last couple of weeks.

“With Commonwealth games this year and the World Cup, there’s a lot happening and it’s a great avenue for a lot of kids to go that way.” 

Campese, who recently returned to live in Australia after a decade in South Africa, has opened his own Rugby academy. 

“I’ve been around the world coaching and speaking with a lot of supporters, coaches and kids and they are a bit frustrated with the way the game has gone,” he said.

“What I’ve decided to do is to run an academy to teach players the basics of the game and have a bit of fun.

“I think we need to get people to understand what the running game of Rugby is about and I’m here now to help schools, coaches and individuals.

“We’ve got a great platform, obviously it was fantastic to see the sevens win in Sydney two weeks ago. They’re getting there and that’s what we need to promote to the young kids, you can go anywhere in the world and play this fantastic game called Rugby.”