Goldrush for New Zealand Sevens in Cape Town

Goldrush for New Zealand Sevens in Cape Town

For the fifth time ever, both the New Zealand Sevens sides were successful in their quest for the HSBC Sevens Series; in the first co-ed tournament in Cape Town.

Both series followed up their stop at the Dubai Sevens, but the men did one better than their second place to South Africa. In Cape Town, they turned the tables on the hosts and managed an emboldened victory that sets up that team’s season (to date).

This ‘goldrush’ is no uncharacteristic for the New Zealand Sevens. It is the fifth time in fact, where each representative side, has carried themselves through the competition undefeated. Winning both Cups, it is an enjoyable weekend for the players, management and their supporters.

And here in South Africa, unsurprisingly, many local fans display massive support for the side wearing ‘all black’.

Goldrush for New Zealand Sevens in Cape Town

A rush of adrenaline is what is needed to reach peak performance. So over this last weekend, both of the New Zealand Sevens sides sustained that performance. They were capable and withstood challenges from sides like Fijiana; who the Black Ferns only just defeated by 12-10.

Those close matches in the pool play, often boost the team’s motivation. The same applies to the New Zealand sevens men as well.

The All Blacks 7s were pushed close by Argentina 19-14. And while they would prevail over the hosts, those ‘close encounters’ would have likely benefitted that side, to reignite their hunger to win.

And win they did, 7-5, in a closely fought Cup final.

When teams can perform in an offshore setting, it is an accomplishment. Something to admire, so when you ‘double that achievement’ and consider how early in the season it is, these teams are peaking at an early stage.

Not something, in fact, the All Blacks 7s men have been capable of [often] doing. In the last few years, they were slow to start and gave others the advantage. In 2018/19, it was the United States – so this season, they will be very pleased to be equally sharing the top of the tables, after two legs of the season.

Although, in saying that, it is a long season. Ten legs (so only one-fifth of the way through the 2019/20 series), so the men cannot get too far ahead of themselves.

Black Ferns 7s women reaching new Peak in Performance

For the women, this season is now much longer. With eight legs of their own HSBC World Series, all the teams must now learn to peak for more stages of the year.

So while they placed third in October, the Black Ferns 7s really have met the new measures required. Co-coaches Alan Bunting and Cory Sweeney should take a lot of the credit, as much as the importance of the New Zealand Sevens training hub. In having the women and the men assembled centrally, it means they can be well prepared and then add in the ability for the coed group to travel with; and to motivate off of, the other.

The women are certainly enjoying the challenge of increased frequency of competition, and even missing their captain Sarah Hirini and star backs Portia Woodman and Michaela Blyde, it makes their victory even more impressive.

Stand-in skipper Tyler Nathan-Wong and senior players Kelly Brazier and Gayle Broughton, are peaking at the right time. If those players were rested for the Hamilton leg of the sevens series, it would be smart player-management. The need to keep their team fresh might see Bunting and Sweeney be innovative, to prolong the early success, into season-long programmed performance standards.

Both the New Zealand sevens teams need to focus on that planning and player rotation models. To lead other teams, who will now place bigger targets on the players wearing All Black shirts. Leading the series now may not transfer into the long term, unless they remain as focused as each appears to be in December 2019. If that can be prolonged into February, April and into May 2020, that will be the real test of their capabilities this season.

Right now though, New Zealand is the leading nation on rugby sevens circuit. And in an Olympic year, that bodes well for a possible ‘goldrush’ in July.

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