Succumbing to the Coronavirus global pandemic, the officially canceled HSBC Sevens Series titles have been awarded – and well earned too – by both women’s and men’s NZ7s sides.
Following a comprehensive consultation process, the remaining rounds of the women’s and men’s World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series 2020 in; Langford, London, Paris, Singapore, and Hong Kong, have all been postponed until now officially canceled. Bringing the 2019/20 Series to an early conclusion.
In a statement from World Rugby, it explained that ‘the decision follows detailed and constructive dialogue with the host and participating unions. It has been taken with the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public as a top priority, and in line with the relevant national government and public health authority advice’.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson congratulated the teams on their achievement. “While this probably isn’t the way the teams would have liked to claim the Series titles, it is a reflection of the impressive form they were in and their consistent performances throughout the season.
🎉 Your 2020 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Champions! 🎉
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) June 30, 2020
“It is a real credit to all players and the wider management for the work they were doing in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics, and I’m sure they will pick up where they left off when they reassemble later in the year,” said Robinson.
Canceled HSBC Sevens Series titles well earned by NZ7s sides
It is the 13th title for the All Blacks Sevens, who had won three of six tournaments played this season, with titles in Cape Town, Hamilton, and Vancouver. Impressively, the team only lost three matches across all six events and led the standings with 115 points, 11 ahead of South Africa in second.
Co-captains Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson (see main photo) were leading from the front in the first six tournaments, with Curry, selected in three tournament Dream Teams and Mikkelson the team’s leading try scorer.
The Black Ferns Sevens claim back-to-back Series titles and were in threatening form before the cancelation of the Series. The team won four consecutive tournaments in Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton, and Sydney to hold a commanding 16-point lead in the standings – an emphatic run of form, and for head coach Allan Bunting was equally proud.
He told Last Word on Rugby, “we’re very proud of our group, and really we were only starting to get our momentum going into the Olympics. Hopefully, we get to do it all over again.”
It is their sixth Series title in eight seasons of the Women’s competition.
Consistent on both attack and defence, the Black Ferns Sevens led the standings for most points with 783 and most tackles with 441. Veterans Kelly Brazier, Ruby Tui, and Niall Williams were the season’s top tacklers.
Stacey Fluhler’s break-through year included leading the try-scoring tally, being selected in four out of five Dream Teams, and picking up two Impact Player of the Tournament titles.
Player welfare at the heart of HSBC Sevens Series conclusion
International Rugby Players head of Legal and Player Welfare, David Quinlan said: “Players are naturally disappointed at today’s announcement, however, given the circumstances of this pandemic, it’s the right decision for all concerned.
“We will continue to work with World Rugby on next season’s schedule so that players can focus on getting back on the pitch and preparing for an Olympic Games in 2021.”
Sir Bill Beaumont spoke on the season-ending decision, and the future season ahead. “We thank our union, commercial, and broadcast partners for their continued support and solidarity during this difficult time. We are united in our commitment and will continue to work hard in a spirit of collaboration as we plan for a return to international rugby sevens as soon as safely possible.”
The planning for a 2020/21 season is still to be confirmed at time of publishing.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images