Saved by the sevens
By ANN-MARIE MAY
FOOTY fever has gripped the Coffs Coast and if the talk around town is anything to go by there is no escaping it.
The big week of league will kick off today, when residents will have the opportunity to come face to face with their heroes at the Orara Valley Seven's civic welcome in the City Square from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
(Tip: many of the Barbarian players will be arriving in town today at the Coffs Harbour Airport around 3.30pm.)
Following this, lucky ticket holders will join the players at the Coffs Harbour Catholic Club's Men of League dinner.
But for everyone else the real excitement gets under way from 11am tomorrow at the Coramba Sports Ground.
Believed to be the richest rugby league sevens competition in regional Australia, the tournament has attracted both interstate and international attention.
Doing the event no harm is the fact that it has been dubbed the 'Russell Crowe Sevens', as our favourite Hollywood hero is rumoured to have booked a front row seat for the weekend's games.
Along with being the major sponsor and underwriting the event, the Oscar winner used his
star power in convincing the USA Tomahawks and a number of national greats to strap on their boots and tackle the locals.
President of the Orara Valley Axeman, Kevin Elks, said the enormity of the event had surprised the organisers.
"We originally hoped to get 20 teams and ended up with 28, with interest still growing. We have turned away six teams in the last three days including Japan, Tonga and New Zealand," Mr Elks said.
Mr Elks said while crowd size was an unpredictable element, estimates were as many as 10,000 people could descend on the Coramba Sports Ground, both tomorrow and Sunday.
And with entry just $2 for adults and free for under 16s, that figure sounds pretty spot on.
On Saturday, each team will play in a round robin format on two fields, with the first whistle blowing at 11am and the last at 6pm.
On Sunday it will be a match up of the best, with finals being played out between the 16 top teams, with the first match at 11am.
Once at the grounds a fantastic day lies ahead, but getting there needs to be taken into consideration.
For those wanting to leave the car safely at home, there are a number of options.
Pacific Coaches will run two trips on each day for $10 return, leaving from the Elizabeth St bus terminal.
Buses will depart on Saturday at 10am and 10.30am, returning at 6.30pm and 7pm and on Sunday at 10am and 10.30am, returning at 4.30pm and 5.30pm. Bookings are essential on 6652 5670.
For the early risers, the Hoey Moey will run a free courtesy bus, leaving between 8.30am and 9am and returning to the pub at the end of the day. For further information telephone 6652 3833.
Alternatively, Coffs Harbour Taxi Service (131 008) will have the full fleet on, Drive Wise (0408 408 401) will do their best to keep up with demand or organise to car pool with friends.
And any youngsters fired up about the big weekend of league ahead, can take part in the Kids For Kangaroos skills camp. To book call Renee Cohen on 6654 7444.
Finally to cap the big week of league, will be the Australia Day (Wednesday) match between the Coast Valley All-Stars and USA Tomahawks and a lead-up game between Fiji and the Cook Islands, to be held at the International Stadium.
Entry is $5, with the main game kicking off at 7pm.