Wellington - The troubled New Zealand round of the World Rugby sevens circuit will be moved from its traditional home in Wellington in an attempt to breathe new life into the tournament.
After 18 years of being based in the New Zealand capital, World Rugby announced on Monday the tournament will next year move to the city of Hamilton.
It is the only change to the 10-round global tournament and was welcomed by New Zealand officials who have struggled to maintain public interest in Wellington as a venue.
"It was time to start a new chapter for the tournament in New Zealand," New Zealand Rugby's (NZR) chief strategy officer Nigel Cass said.
"The inclusion of sevens in the Olympic Games has introduced the sport to a new group of athletes and fans and NZR is committed to developing a strong sevens programme."
While the sevens was a sell out at Wellington's Westpac Stadium in its early years, rivalling the famed Hong Kong Sevens for its festive atmosphere, interest has faded in recent times.
"The feedback we'd been getting from the public was that the event in Wellington seemed to have lost its allure," city mayor Justin Lester said.
"Wellingtonians have been voting with their feet in the last few years and we've seen the result in dwindling crowd numbers and lower ticket sales."
Rugby Sevens Series 2017/18 schedule:
December 1-2: Dubai
December 9-10: Cape Town
January 26-28: Sydney
February 3-4: Hamilton
March 2-4: Las Vegas
March 10-11: Vancouver
April 6-8: Hong Kong
April 28-29: Singapore
May 26-27: Paris
June 2-3: London
The Sevens Rugby World Cup will be played in San Francisco from July 20-22.