New Zealand rugby has claimed an incredible World Series double at the Sydney Sevens this weekend, following two emphatic performances in the men’s and women’s Cup Finals.
After last weekend’s thrilling event in Hamilton, both New Zealand teams were eager to write their name into rugby history as the World Series returned to Australia for the first time in three years.
Both teams were eager to win it all at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium, but were motivated by different reasons.
The Black Ferns Sevens are a team who expects excellence from themselves; they want to win every time they take the field, and this mindset has served them well for quite some time.
The New Zealand Women’s team flew off the Tasman with the ‘reigning champions’ moniker to their name, following a success campaign in Hamilton.
But the men couldn’t say the same. In fact, they were coming off an agonising defeat to Argentina in the final – losing by just two points at the last World Series event in New Zealand.
And having spoken to some of the teams key players this week, it’s clear that that result hurt.
All Blacks captain Sam Dickson told RugbyPass on Day Two of the Sydney Sevens that last weeks result had “added fuel to the fire for this weekend.”
Both teams were eager to reinforce their championship credentials, and that’s exactly what they did.
The Black Ferns Sevens won all three of their pool matches by emphatic margins, as they topped Pool A with a points differential of +78.
But their performances in all three sudden death matches were even better.
They didn’t concede a single point – not even in the Final, as they beat France 35-nil.
With her gold medal draped around her neck, and countless fans screaming out to ask for a photo or an autograph, Sevens veteran Portia Woodman-Wickliffe reflected on the successful tournament.
“That was really cool. I think we started the tournament really slow given back-to-back (tournaments), we haven’t done it many times in a long time.
“To finish like that with this morning’s game and that Final was pretty cool.
“Probably going into the next one I want better but to finish like that was really awesome,” Woodman-Wickliffe told RugbyPass
“It’s nice to know that both programs are doing well,” she added.
“Last week the boys were so close against Argentina but to come off with that win today, it’s really awesome to know the young boys are stepping up.
“You’ve got the old heads of Sam Dickson, Dyl (Dylan Collier), Sione (Molia), like those guys are still leading the way.”
As for the men’s team, their tournament was going to plan – well, until it didn’t. But they got their revenge in Sunday night’s Final.
After beating Uruguay 45-7 in their first pool match, and Kenya 33-nil in their second, the All Blacks Sevens faced a titanic clash against rivals South Africa.
It’s impossible to be disappointed when those two teams go-head-to-head, and their clash on Day Two was no different.
The match came down to the wire and ended in both dramatic and bizarre circumstances, as South African Dalvon Blood kicked a penalty with the last play of the game.
Blood’s successful shot at goal handed his side a three-point, which saw them top Pool B and relegated New Zealand to second.
But the two teams would end up facing off again the Sydney Sevens Cup Final, which the All Blacks Sevens won.
In fact, they dominated the decider.
New Zealand six tries and held rivals South Africa to none, as they made a statement in Sydney with a 38-nil win.
After losing last weekend’s Final by such a fine margin, captain Sam Dickson said he was “stoked” to bounce back with a win in Sydney.
“Last week was so disappointing in the end and for the boys to get past that disappointment and use that as fuel, I’m just proud of everyone,” Dickson told RugbyPass.
“I think it just shows how close we’ve been all year to clicking so it’s just so pleasing that we did.
“I just need to give credit to the management and all the boys back home also in that extended squad, this is everyone, not just the 13 that’s here. Shoutout to them.”