Paremata-Plimmerton with the American Ambassador’s Trophy that they won today.
- By Steven White
- Photos by Andy McArthur (photo galleries to come)
Provisional results are here: 2023 Ambassadors Sevens Tournament Results
The Paremata-Plimmerton Hammerheads and the Petone Ponies are this year’s respective Wellington club rugby 7s men’s and women’s champions.
Paremata-Plimmerton won the American Ambassador’s Trophy for the first time and Petone the Eleanor Roosevelt Cup for the first time in at least a decade with their victories at a fine, breezy Trentham Memorial Park.
Both winners beat Wainuiomata teams in the finals.
Paremata-Plimmerton beat Wainuiomata 40-7 in the men’s Cup final and Petone beat Wainuiomata 33-14 in the women’s Cup decider.
Whilst Paremata-Plimmerton were presented with the AA trophy on fulltime, Petone will have to wait a bit longer to take possession of the ER Cup. Defending champions Marist St Pat’s, who finished third today, couldn’t bring it to the venue and instead it was the Women’s club rugby Challenge trophy that was raised high into the blue sky afterwards.
Both finals saw the winning team take control after halftime after scores had been close at the turnarounds. It was tit-for-tat early in the women’s final as both teams scored twice to make it 14-14. Petone scored early in the second spell and ran clear.
Both Women’s finalists featured youthful squads, with Wainuiomata fielding three current Sacred Heart College schoolgirls and Billie Va’a from St Mary’s College. The Shannon Nightingale-co-coached Petone also had a St Mary’s presence in its ranks.
Petone had started the day by beating Avalon 17-5, but then had a long break before their second match owing to the pre-tournament late withdrawal through injuries of the Paremata-Plimmerton women’s side and a gap in the draw.
Petone went on beat Poneke 36-10 and then defeated Marist St Pat’s 26-7.
Petone are the seventh different winner in the past eight women’s American Ambassador’s tournaments, with MSP (2017 and 2022) the only double winners since 2015.
Last year’s women’s winners MSP were held to a 19-19 draw first up by Poneke, with Phoebe Edwards scoring all three of Poneke’s tries in that match.
The women’s final doubled as both finalists’ final round-robin match of the day.
In the men’s finale, Paremata-Plimmerton led 14-7 at halftime, before crossing for four unanswered tries in the second half to win convincingly.
For the most part, Paremata-Plimmerton were dominant throughout the tournament and went on a try-scoring frenzy in some of their other games.
This included a 57-0 win over Tawa and a 45-7 win over Poneke, as well as a win by default over Wainuiomata’s second side. Their closest match was their first-up 28-12 win over Johnsonville, who featured such players as Irish pair Mark Sutton and Niall Delahunt and Olly Paotonu running strongly.
Paremata-Plimmerton’s line-up included 15s regulars from this year’s team that won the Swindale Shield and were Jubilee Cup runners-up, such as Esi Komaisavai, Ethan Webster-Nonu, Sam Clarke, Louis Northcott, Knox Tuinasau, Christian Faavae and Caleb Alaga, plus a guest player Alex Fidow in some of their games.
Wainuiomata were steadied by such players as Josh Robertson-Weepu and Campbell Cowie, while Samoan legend of the game Uale Mai was also in action for them.
Both men’s finalists fielded two teams on the day, in part making up for the absence of some other clubs on the men’s side of the draw such as defending co-champions the Upper Hutt Rams, Hutt Old Boys Marist, Petone and MSP (the latter serving the third and final year of their ban from this tournament).
Defending co-champions Oriental-Rongotai missed out on a chance for the spoils after being held to two draws.
Ories drew 19-19 early in the day to finalists Wainuiomata and then 31-31 to Paremata-Plimmerton’s second side. Their most convincing performance of the day was their 55-0 win over the Wellington Axemen.
That second Paremata-Plimmerton team also had a fair day out there, beating Old Boys University 19-10 and the Wellington Axemen 41-17. Their only defeat was 12-24 to the top Wainuiomata contender.
Apart from their heavy loss to the winners, Tawa showed flashes of good play in their games. Most of their squad was under 20 and they too featured some school players such as Tawa College’s Anthony Hunt who scored several tries.
OBU, Avalon, Poneke and the Axemen all had their moments.
Today’s tournament was well-officiated by the WRRA, whose squad included Danny Cameron, Jack Cottrell, Matthew Fawkes, Jake Hird, Ethan Loveridge, Hamish Mexted, Ollie Michie and Mike Nicholls.
There are no more slated 7s tournaments in Wellington this year, with the re-booted Central Region Provincial Sevens scheduled for Palmerston North later this month. This was down for next weekend, but it appears it might now be on 25 November. More details to come.
WRFU club sevens winners last five years (no tournament in 2021 owing to Covid 19):
2022: Upper Hutt Rams and Oriental-Rongotai shared
2020: Northern United
2019: Hutt Old Boys Marist
2018: Northern United
2022: Marist St Pat’s
2019: Old Boys University
2018: Northern United