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Strong drive ... Otago University player Mary Ann Thomas (left) supports ball carier Ilish Doyle. Julia Gorinski (right) runs in support as well during the Pioneer Pre Season Sevens tournament on Saturday. PHOTO: JENNY DILLNER

The inclusion of female rugby sevens at this year’s Pioneer Pre Season Sevens Tournament paid dividends, organisers say.

President Shaun Eckhout said four teams entered the female competition, which was won by a joint University of Otago and Pioneer rugby team.

“It was a really enjoyable experience for all involved. It’s been great to get that up and running,” Eckhout said.

The club received great feedback from the teams that had entered in the competition, he said.

“They all loved it. We’re looking forward to having it back next year.”

In the men’s competition, 13 teams from throughout Otago and Southland took part.

Harbour Rugby Club, of Dunedin, won the competition for the third year in a row.

“Blues and Harbour came up against each other in the final. It was a great match but Harbour managed to nudge a few more tries near the end.”

Eckhout said it had been a great competition with a few close games.

“It’s a bit different because you can find division two teams playing up against premier teams so there’s a different challenge in there,” he said.

The competition was a good way for teams to test themselves early in the season.

“It’s the first hit out of the season for most teams. It’s great to get them out there on the field.”

The competition attracted a fantastic crowd throughout the day to support the skills on display, Eckhout said.

“We had lots of people come down and support it. There were quite a few teams from the area, so there was a great crowd around.

“A lot of people came back at night to the club rooms so it was a good evening as well,” Eckhout said.

The tournament was used as the main fundraiser for Pioneer Rugby Football Club.

While he had not tallied the amount raised, Eckhout expected the club had made more than last year.