ALOHA WORLD SEVENS (AWS): World’s Largest Junior Men’s and Women’s (Under-20) Sevens Rugby Championship Tournament Set for Aloha Stadium – Hawai’i’s Most Prestigious Sporting Venue
Honolulu, Hawai’i – The world’s largest Junior Men’s and Women’s (Under-20) annual Sevens Rugby championship tournament, ALOHA WORLD SEVENS (AWS), takes the field in Honolulu next year featuring 24 representative teams from 24 countries.
The AWS venue is the 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium, Hawai’i’s most prestigious sports facility and the largest stadium for any major annual Rugby tournament in the United States.
The ALOHA WORLD SEVENS tournament is scheduled from Thursday, June 5, through Saturday, June 7, 2014, with 68 competition matches – 24 matches on Day 1; 24 on Day 2 and 20 matches on Day 3. Only one team per country will be represented. Sevens Rugby is a fast-paced, exciting and usually high scoring game with 7-minute halves and 2-minute halftime periods.
“We are excited to introduce and host the ALOHA WORLD SEVENS (AWS) as the world’s largest Sevens Rugby international championship tournament. It is also the first world class Sevens Rugby tournament of this scale ever held in Hawai’i,” according to Reg Schwenke, AWS Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer. He added: “We plan to make Hawai’i our permanent home and further enhance the state’s image as a world-class sports and multicultural destination.”
The worldwide popularity of Sevens Rugby is evidenced by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) addition of the sport to the Olympic Games, beginning with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui announced October 15 in a major joint press conference the establishment of a new Sports Development Initiative (SDI) to encourage and foster more international and world class sporting events in Hawai’i by “taking the lead role and advantage of the state’s unique characteristics in becoming an (sports development) anchor in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Lt. Governor Tsutsui, who will oversee the new SDI, met with ALOHA WORLD SEVENS co-founders Reg, Mac and Carolyne Craig Schwenke the same day following the press conference and issued this statement of support:
“We are ecstatic that Hawaii will be hosting the Aloha Sevens tournament next year. The tournament is a fine example of how teams from all over the world can converge in Hawaii to showcase their sport,” said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui. “Aloha Sevens is in alignment with our new Sports Development Initiative, which seeks to expand and enhance our sports portfolio in hosting and attracting international events, making Hawaii the center-stage of athletics events in the Asia-Pacific region.”
The ALOHA WORLD SEVENS tournament has been officially sanctioned by USA Rugby (USAR), the national organization that governs the sport in the U.S.
“USA Rugby enthusiastically supports the initiative and hard work behind the development of the ALOHA WORLD SEVENS (AWS) international championship tournament. We have been working with them for over a year,” said Nigel Melville, President and Chief Executive Officer for USA Rugby, adding that “we fully endorse the AWS co-founders’ vision to establish world class Rugby events in Hawai’i, where there is so much talent and untapped potential for development of the sport.”
Melville noted that “many former USA Eagles Sevens and 15’s national team members have come from Hawai’i and have proudly represented the state and our country. That will continue and the ALOHA WORLD SEVENS will only encourage and foster more talented Rugby players to excel and seek to represent the Aloha State and the USA in world competition.”
Melville is assisting the AWS organizers by coordinating contacts with top national rugby union officials from all the countries invited to participate in the ALOHA WORLD SEVENS inaugural tournament next June.
At the suggestion of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority to spotlight Hawai’i’s high caliber Sevens Rugby talent, the AWS organizers are including two exhibition matches featuring Junior Men’s and Women’s (Under-20) Sevens Rugby All-Star teams from Oahu against Neighbor Island All-Star teams.
Current AWS sponsors include the Polynesian Cultural Center; WorldRugbyShop.com; Enterprise Rent-a-Car; ESPN 1420 / NBC Sports Radio 1500 (Honolulu); PacificBasin Communications; and Rukutai International (China). Other major sponsorships are being reviewed and negotiated.
“For the ALOHA WORLD SEVENS to become an unparalleled home-grown world class event, we are seeking more corporate sponsorships and funding support by local, national and international private sector companies. No one can compete with our Aloha Spirit anywhere in the world and we will showcase that, Schwenke added.”
Mac Schwenke, AWS Co-Founder, Executive Vice President and Tournament Director, said “our AWS tournament will actively reach out to various ethnic communities and consular offices in Hawai’i to support their representative teams from visiting countries.
“The “aloha spirit” of Hawai’i is unique, infectious and cannot be duplicated. We plan to incorporate “Adopt a Country” general admission open seating sections in the stadium where fans can cheer for their country teams or adopt any team to root for. It’s going to be a crazy fun, entertaining and family friendly environment. We want it to be a memorable and unforgettable experience for everyone in attendance. We want all fans to be safe and come back year after year,” Schwenke added.
Unlike virtually all other Rugby-related tournaments and events worldwide noted for the sport’s fun “beer-drinking culture”, the ALOHA WORLD SEVENS organizers will NOT serve alcoholic beverages in any of their official events and activities because of their specific youth Under-20 participant demographic.
“We have an obligation to ensure our competition is not marred by intoxicated, disruptive or unruly fans because of the presence of many families with young children,” Schwenke concluded.
All referees for the AWS tournament will be certified by USA Rugby or the IRB and will be brought from outside Hawai’i. USA Rugby is assisting in selecting the best qualified officials for the tournament.
The AWS organizers are using their international tournament as a stepping stone to introduce the non-contact Keiki Olympic Flag Rugby to Hawai’i schools and various communities. The objective is to develop better motor skills among Hawai’i’s children and youth in all through the various facets of the sport of rugby
The AWS organizers have set even loftier goals for the future development of their tournament and related special events under its parent organization, AWS Events Group LLC, a Hawai’i-based entity.
Carolyne Craig Schwenke, AWS Co-Founder and Senior Vice President, noted that “one of the critical goals of our AWS Events Group is to also provide unprecedented opportunities for multicultural interaction, exchange and learning about the dance, music, performing arts and fashions of other world cultures involved with our AWS tournament.”
Carolyne is spearheading an AWS international multicultural festival that will be unveiled with the second annual AWS tournament featuring top performing groups and fashion contingents from the international countries participating in the tournament.
The AWS co-founders have diverse backgrounds they each bring to their comprehensive sports and multicultural undertaking. All four are New Zealand born and raised, although they have lived and worked in Hawai’i for many years.