Rugby riches at $18,000
Rugby 7s: Nomination of a 10th women's team has increased the total prize pool for the Santos Roma Rugby 7s tournament to more than $18,000.
What started as a local derby has grown to what is now believed to be one of the richest single-division tournaments in the state.
With $5000 up for grabs for the winners of the Santos men's championship and the AGL's women's title, competition is sure to be fierce when 14 men's teams join the women on Gallas Fox Park on Saturday, February 2.
While the winners will also take home the Tanya Osbourne Cup (men) and Emilee Cherry Cup (women), the runners-up won't go away empty handed, with $2500 on offer for their achievements.
With nominations in the women's competition now triple that of 2016, a women's plate and bowl will be contested for the first time this year, mirroring the men's competition, with $1000 and $500 on offer for winners.
Teams from as far as Melbourne, as well as Brisbane, Rockhampton, Gympie, Condamine, St George, Augauthella and as close as Roma Cities and the Echidnas have begun training for next month's event.
David Hickey, from the Roma Echidnas 7s sub-committee, said the appeal of the Roma competition had grown in the past few years.
"We are able to attract top class teams from the cities and it's great to see how they play," Hickey said.
"The thing about these teams is that they play for keeps, though all it takes is one game for a small rural town team to knock them out.
"It is a risk teams take in days like Santos 7s but, more than that, I think a lot of teams come out to support bush rugby.
"They enjoy the hospitality Roma has to offer," Hickey said.
"Returning teams know how good a night the Royal (on 99) puts on for the Friday night and they look forward to that as much as they do the competition."
Mid-level teams also came out to support the local rugby community and to enjoy a chance to play the game they loved, in addition to the chance to take home some prize money.
"I think the prize money does attract some teams and, now that we have increased that this year, we're hoping it will continue to grow," Hickey said.
"It's all a bit of fun as much as it is a chance for these players to play good rugby, we have a wonderful time."
Santos Roma Rugby 7s will kick off at 8am on Saturday, February 2, at Gallas Fox Park, Roma.
Team nominations close today.