Sevens is now axed
By GREG WHITE
ORARA Valley rugby league club have put their upcoming 2008 Sevens Tournament into hibernation for a year.
Since its inception in 2004 the event has grown dramatically and with 32 teams engaged, has been the largest 'sevens' rugby league promotion in the nation over the last two years.
Spokesperson John Cullen said the shock decision was made when the Axemen executive called together all the club's stakeholders for a special meeting on Thursday night.
"Since I've been here it's the most formal meeting we've ever conducted," he said.
"Everybody from the canteen staff to the junior league and the backroom specialists, who go out there to put the sponsorships together, was given an opportunity to have a say and while opinions were often spirited, the final vote was unanimous to go into recess until 2009.
"At some stage next year we'll go back to the drawing board and take a fresh look."
The two factors blamed for suspending the Tournament are the World Cup in Australia during the Centenary Year of Rugby League celebrations and complications involving the Barbarians team.
International teams including Japan, USA, Malta, Lebanon, Portugal and Papua New Guinea told Orara while they were interested in and enjoyed the concept, their World Cup commitments would clash with the tournament.
In the case of Malta and Lebanon at least, this represents a major turnaround in policy with management from both organisations stating publicly during their visit earlier this year, they view participation as a critical factor in raising their national profile and identity.
Also, the World Cup has attracted former State of Origin and Internationals to the Barbarians team as coaching assistants.
This consultancy has proven to be a further challenge to this team being able to attend.
"We discussed the possibility and did the sums of running a smaller event next January but concluded this wasn't an option," Cullen said.
"Financially, a scaled-down version was too risky without the national teams and we weren't prepared to risk getting our fingers burned.
"With everything considered we found it a fait accompli and will just have to sit it out until 2009."