The 2005 Sports Oxy-Shot Sevens will see 30 teams battle it out for the $3500 first prize. With three groups of 10, it will be very difficult to make the finals without winning both pool matches.
A large number of clubs are serious chances of winning this tournament, with Thirroul, Cook Islands, Picton, Fiji A, Hibiscus Coast, UTS and Victoria Uni among the favourites. So even is this year's field, that the winner still may come from outside this group.
The Six entrants from the Tooheys Illawarra League has ensured plenty of local interest and they will all give the tournament a good shake, as will the side representing an array of competitions from New Zealand to all over Sydney, the South Coast and Highlands.
The event will kick off on Friday night at 5pm with an clash between Port Kembla and the Cook Islands in the seven match, six team under eighteens tournament that will conclude later in the evening. It was launched at the Steelers Club yesterday and was given good coverage by WIN TV during the sport section of their high rating news program.
The Men of League will be represented by Illawarra Steelers including Brett Rodwell, Paul McGregor, Ian Russell and Chris Walsh in the touch match to be played at the Sports Oxy-Shot Sevens tomorrow (Friday) night. To raise funds for the Tsunami victims, a couple of places in the side to face the Steelers legends will be raffled to the crowd. If you wish to be a chance make sure you have appropriate footwear, which is joggers. Jeans night be uncomfortable too. Others will simply be able to make a donation if they do not wish to play and all money raised will go to the Red Cross.
A look at the pools and how the draw has affected all the senior team's chances this year.
POOL 1 Port Kembla Rosehill POOL 2 Wests Cook Islands A Corrimal Kingsgrove POOL 3 Hibiscus Coast Thirroul Blacktown POOL 4 Aquinas Shellharbour Helensburgh POOL 5 Moorebank Sydney Uni Wollongong Uni POOL 6 Brighton Seagulls Cook Islands Valley United POOL 7 Auburn Nowra Tonga POOL 8 Coogee St Christophers St Clair POOL 9 Fiji A Picton UTS Colyton POOL 10 Kiama Victoria Uni
Pool 1. Port Kembla. Rosehill. Wests.
The only pool with two Illawarra teams, and it could be the clash against each other that decides whether they go through to the quarter finals. Rosehill were very competitive last year and will also test the local sides.
Pool 2. Cook Islands A. Corrimal. Kingsgrove.
The Cougars will be up against the Cooks Island A side and Kingsgrove in Pool Two. All these teams have experience in this tournament and the group winner could cause headaches in the quarters.
Pool 3. Hibiscus Coast. Thirroul. Blacktown.
The winner of this group will be hard to beat. Bartercard Cup side Hibiscus Coast will flex their muscles against back-to-back champions Thirroul, who have added Craig Smith to their ranks for 2005. Blacktown are an unknown quantitiy, making their debut this year.
Pool 4. Aquinas. Shellharbour. Helensburgh.
Group Seven club Shellharbour will be trying to repeat their 2002 victory in this tournament. They will first have to get past strengthened Illawarra club Helensburgh and Aquinas from Cronulla.
Pool 5. Moorebank. Sydney University. Wollongong Uni.
The host club have a big task if they are to claim their third title. They are up against the historical Sydney Uni club and also have to overcome the Moorebank Rams.
Pool 6. Brighton Seagulls. Cook Islands. Valley United.
The Cook Islands are coming off some great form and will be favourites to progress from this Group. This is despite opposition in two Sydney clubs who will be keen on beating one of the favourites.
Pool 7. Auburn. Nowra. Tonga.
The Islanders face a Nowra Warriors team that has one win in three years. Auburn had a good win over Forrestville last year and should give their opposition a hard time.
Pool 8. Coogee. St Christophers. St Clair.
The Dolphins are veterans of this tournamnet and face two new teams who are sure to give them two good matchs. St Clair in particular are a big club and should be a team to watch.
Pool 9. Fiji A. Picton. UTS.
This is one of the most powerful pools with strong Goup Six club Picton to battle it out with Fiji A and UTS, who have been semi-finalists two years running. The winner of this group a huge chance.
Pool 10. Colyton. Kiama. Victoria Uni.
Group Seven club Kiama have found themselves in a tough pool, with the New Zealanders unlucky to lose to eventual winner Thirroul in last year's semi final. Colyton had a win and a loss last year.
Qualifier 1. Pool 2 Winner v Pool 5 Winner.
Host club Uni have drawn Group Five and may face the likes of Cook Islands even if they do accomplish the tough task of winning their group.
Qualifier 2. Pool 3 Winner v Pool 7 Winner.
Winners of pools two and five must clash to qualify for the quarter finals, making it even more difficult for those clubs to ultimately take the trophy.
Good luck to all teams involved.
A site for the Sports Oxy-Shot Sevens is at www.concreteboots.com/sevens.htm