19 Sep 2018

More than 500 athletes register for Sevens Identification Programme

10:39 am on 19 September 2018

New Zealand Rugby is encouraged by the response to find new sevens players.

More than 500 athletes, including 119 identified as being from outside rugby, have registered for New Zealand Rugby's Ignite7 programme.

The Black Ferns celebrate winning the rugby sevens World Cup

The Black Ferns celebrate winning the rugby sevens World Cup Photo: Photosport

The Sevens identification programme was launched in July with applications made through an online process.

There was an open invitation to athletes under 20-years-old to register their interest for a four-day event that would result in 48 male and 48 female hopefuls put through their paces in Auckland in November.

Several athletes have already begun a five-week rugby training course designed to upskill them in preparation for the event.

Three male and three female athletes will earn a place at the 2019 New Zealand Sevens Development Camp where they will train alongside the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads.

NZR High Performance Sevens Manager Tony Philp said the response to the open registration had been pleasing.

"We've had an overwhelming response to the concept with more than 500 valid registrations made online and through Provincial Union nominations. Importantly 119 of those applicants identified themselves as being from outside rugby," Philp said.

"Our registered athletes have come from backgrounds in athletics, snow sports, water sports, martial arts, and Waka Ama as well as a number of non-rugby team sports, which is exactly the sort of diversity we had hoped to attract."

New Zealand once again in Sevens heaven

New Zealand once again in Sevens heaven Photo: RNZ / YouTube

The Austrian energy drink company Red Bull has signed up to support the Ignite7 programme.

In July NZR Head of High Performance Mike Anthony said Ignite7 was designed to encourage talented athletes from all sporting codes, regardless of rugby experience, to come forward and have a go at Sevens.

"Our national Sevens teams compete at the highest level on the world stage and we want to be sure we are casting the net as wide as possible and tapping into the huge reservoir of athletic talent that exists across New Zealand.

"Ignite7 gives us the chance to do that outside of our normal parameters and we see this as taking Sevens into an exciting new era, not only for our athletes but for rugby fans too."

NZR's High Performance Sevens coaches and trainers will vet registrations before selecting the 96 players who will assemble in Auckland from 21 November to 24 November.