Hamilton, January 29, 2020
The Black Ferns Sevens continued their perfect record against Canada in Cup finals on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to become the inaugural champions in Hamilton on January 26, 2020.
This was the seventh meeting of the sides in a title decider and just like the previous six it was the Black Ferns Sevens celebrating, more so this time after the 24-7 victory.
The win saw them crowned HSBC New Zealand Sevens champions to become the third team to win a title on home soil.
It is a third Cup title in a row after their success in Dubai and Cape Town last month and extended their winning run to 13 matches against Canada, whose only win against the Black Ferns Sevens came in Sao Paulo back in February 2016.
Canada had opened the scoring at FMG Stadium through Brittany Benn in the fifth minute despite the high tackle of Ruby Tui, which saw the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year sent to the sin-bin for two minutes.
New Zealand holds firm
New Zealand held firm in her absence and then with the clock deep into the red at the end of the first half they made the breakthrough, Stacey Fluhler being stopped short before Michaela Blyde went over from closer range than many of her tries this weekend.
Fluhler won the restart and the ball was quickly worked along the line to Blyde, who stepped her way through the Canadian defence for her eighth of the tournament.
Niall Williams’ try with little more than two minutes to play pushed the Black Ferns Sevens out to 19-7 and all but secured the title.
However, there was still time for HSBC Player of the Final Fluhler to turn another restart take into New Zealand’s fourth try of the title decider and see her become the first player to score 10 tries in a series tournament since her fellow Black Ferns Sevens star Portia Woodman in Glendale in October 2018.
“This is massive. To everyone who has supported us over the last couple of days, thank you very much. We love all of our fans here in New Zealand,” Captain Sarah Hirini said.
“It was the heart and grit that got us over the line. We have been training for this for so long to play in New Zealand. Canada are amazing but the way that the girls fought to get the ball back in – obviously we’ve got some speedsters to score us some tries as well,” she said.
Opportunity well used
Fluhler added: “That was a very enjoyable moment. We know that we will get only one opportunity to play here at home this season, so we really wanted to make our fans, our friends and our family proud and I think we did exactly that.”
New Zealand sit top of the standings at the halfway point of the series with 76 points, 12 clear of Australia who finished fourth in Hamilton. Canada are close behind on 62 points, two more than USA with France’s bronze medal taking them on to 56 points.
The teams will now travel to Sydney, Australia for the fifth tournament on the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series where the event will be hosted at the Bankwest Stadium for the first time on February 1 and 2, 2020.
The HSBC Sydney Sevens is a combined men’s and women’s event and is the second double-header the women will play this season following Dubai and Cape Town in December.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 concludes in Paris, France on May 30 and 31, 2020; thereafter, 24 men’s and women’s teams will travel to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where Rugby Sevens will be played for a second time from July 27 to August 1, 2020.
Sheevas Dayal is Indian Newslink Rugby Correspondent.