Hamilton’s FMG Stadium Waikato sizzled to the sevens for the second year running as fans voted with their feet at the 2019 HSBC New Zealand Sevens.
Organisers put the sold out sign up early on day two of the world series sevens tournament and the capacity crowd partied and cheered through to the final whistle.
HSBC NZ Sevens General Manager Steve Dunbar said the second edition of the tournament in Hamilton had ticked every box.
“To have more than 23,500 fans head to the ground on Saturday and then 25,111 on Sunday was great. Fans have really embraced the festival we have built around the venue and that balance between the carnival and rugby created a winning vibe.
“The costumes were fantastic, the Fijian fans were incredible, and the behaviour of the vast majority of people was exemplary.”
Dunbar made special mention of the Black Ferns Sevens and the Fast Four tournament.
“To see our Black Ferns Sevens line up for the national anthem in front of a sold out stadium and go on to win the title was special. We all saw the emotion and how much it meant to the players and the crowd’s reaction to the team’s haka after full time spoke volumes.”
With just six arrests over the weekend police praised the behaviour of a crowd that moved freely between the Mill Street R18 zone, Willoughby Park Carnival and their allocated seats.
“We’ve proven this event works in Hamilton and we’re confident we’ve made the strongest possible case for World Rugby to award New Zealand the licence to keep the tournament here in 2020 and beyond,” Dunbar said.
World Rugby plan to announce the format of the World Sevens Series for the next four years in March or April of this year.
37 South Managing Director and co-promoter Dallas Fisher said Hamilton had proven again why it was great host city for the sevens.
“We’ve raised the bar on 2018 and that’s testament to the hard work of our team and the strength of our partnership with New Zealand Rugby, H3 and the Hamilton City Council.
“We’ve got the mix of entertainment and sport right and anyone who attended the Drax Project’s performance on Mill Street on Saturday or DJ Sir-Vere’s set on Sunday will have left with some very special memories.”
Fisher said the cashless Glownet wristbands had made the fan experience easy with water stations, free sunscreen and plenty of open chill out zones had created a great atmosphere in and around FMG Stadium Waikato.
Only one fan was taken to hospital over two days and minor cuts and ailments were the only issues for St John Ambulance staff.
The crowd was in full voice by the time Fiji beat the USA 38-0 in the Cup final to win back to back HSBC New Zealand Sevens titles.
World Sevens Series leaders, the USA had beaten the All Blacks Sevens to reach the final in New Zealand for the first time, but the crowd didn’t skip a beat.
There was plenty for fans to smile about and emotional scenes as the Black Ferns Sevens beat France 29-0 to win the Fast Four Trophy to cap an historic weekend of the women’s game in New Zealand.
The All Blacks Sevens redeemed themselves with a 29-7 win over South Africa in the playoff for third and fourth.