The Rugby Sevens competition at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will be truly world class, with seven of the top ten world ranked international Rugby Sevens teams set to compete, it was revealed today.

With Rugby Sevens tickets still up for grabs, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Officer, John Harnden, believes ticket holders to any of the four sessions, which will be held on the first two days of the Games, will certainly see plenty of top class action.

“With such a high quality line up, and each session having between eight and twelve matches to see, fans will definitely experience the thrill of what Rugby Sevens is all about,” said Mr Harnden.

“It’s exciting to inform Rugby Sevens fans around the world about the games they are going to see and it’s equally exciting that world class Rugby Sevens competition returns to Australia for the first time in a number of years.

“Today’s announcement of the schedule – with just 153 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games – will certainly give fans a taste of what is to come in March next year,” he said.

Melbourne 2006 will be the third time Rugby Sevens has been played at the Commonwealth Games. It made its debut in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and in 2002 in Manchester Sevens enjoyed some of the biggest crowds of the Games. Head of Rugby Services at the International Rugby Board, Mark Egan, is excited about the calibre of international competition headed to Australian shores.    

“Rugby Sevens is a sport in its own right and is now a core sport of the Commonwealth Games due to its popularity. Fans from across the globe and those that travel to Melbourne are in for a real treat as 16 of the world’s best teams come together to put on a great spectacle,” said Mr Egan.

“The IRB is certain there will be some spectacular matches next March and just like the 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens the IRB expects the event to played in front of bumper crowds that will cheer their teams towards Commonwealth Games glory in Melbourne.”

The 16 nations to compete at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games are:
Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, England, Fiji, Kenya, Namibia, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Uganda, Wales, Zambia.

The schedule for this Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens tournament will result in some great competition highlights, including the much anticipated battle against defending Commonwealth and current IRB Sevens champions, New Zealand and defending Commonwealth silver medalists and current Rugby World Cup Sevens holders Fiji.

Also expected to be in the medal mix is England, Samoa, South Africa and Australia.

Australian Wallaby legend and former Australian Sevens Captain Glen Ella, who will coach Australia to the Commonwealth Games, said the competition would be very tough.

“The top four Rugby Sevens teams in the world – New Zealand, Fiji, England and South Africa – will all be playing in Melbourne, so the Commonwealth Games will definitely be attracting the best of the best.

“New Zealand have set the benchmark in Rugby Sevens over recent years, so they will be very tough to beat, as will Fiji who have a long history of producing amazing Rugby Sevens players.

“We have been drawn in the same pool as England, the Cook Islands and Sri Lanka. We have a strong traditional rivalry with England who will no doubt attract a lot of supporters, so it will be a great atmosphere in the Telstra Dome when we play them.”

Australian clashes on day one at the Telstra Dome are:

DATE SESSION COMPETITION
Thursday March 16 Afternoon Australia v Sri Lanka
Thursday March 16 Evening Australia v Cook Islands
Thursday March 16 Evening Australia v England

Rugby Sevens fans can still get their slice of the action – from October 15 tickets will be available via Ticketmaster outlets, by http://www.melbourne2006.com.au/ and via the Games hotline – 1300 00 2006.

A full competition schedule is available at http://www.melbourne2006.com.au/

The XVIII Commonwealth Games will be held from 15-26 March 2006 and will bring together 4,500 athletes from 71 nations. Further information can be found on http://www.melbourne2006.com.au/

For further information please contact:
Katie Hodge -Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games
+61 03 9613 2006
+61 0438 604 584
katie.hodge@melbourne2006.com.au