The All Blacks Sevens aren’t ‘stressing’ and neither should their fans

Fehi Fineanganofo was the hero the All Blacks Sevens shouldn’t have needed in Perth. New Zealand raced out to a 19-point lead before a barrage of opposition tries opened the door for a stunning upset.

The clock was ticking dangerously close to full-time in the ninth-place semi-final against Canada at SVNS Perth late last month. New Zealand were relegated to the bottom four after losses to France and Fiji saw them finish outside of Cup quarter-final qualification in pool play.

But their weekend almost went from bad to worse. It got ugly for the Kiwis as Canada scored three tries in four minutes to put themselves in the driver’s seat for an incredible shock.

Video Spacer

Sam Dickson talks to RugbyPass about the All Blacks Sevens early exit | Perth SVNS

Canada, who are second-last on the overall SVNS Series standings, came close to beating the All Blacks Sevens for the second time in as many meetings this season – and they probably should’ve.

But New Zealand snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Fineanganofo broke through for the match-winning score in the final minute which saved the reigning overall series champions from having to battle to battle it out with Great Britain for 11th place.

Crisis averted.

The All Blacks Sevens finished their campaign at HBF Park on a high note as veteran Tim Mikkelson scored a last-gasp winner to sink Samoa 21-14 in the ninth-place decider.

“It was pleasing a pleasing finish to the tournament even though we didn’t get the result we wanted,” New Zealand sevens star Sam Dickson told RugbyPass in Perth.

“Credit to the other teams,” he added. “They’re playing outstanding this year and you could see the whole level has raised so much. One to 12 could win the tournament.

“We’re slowly building towards the Olympics, the Olympics in our main goal… we aren’t stressing. We know what we’re doing and we’ve got a plan in place.”

That might be a tough pill for New Zealand rugby supporters to swallow. Those tasked with wearing the black jersey are expected to do it justice every time they step onto the field of battle.

But the All Blacks Sevens’ form this season hasn’t been captivating – certainly not for the right reasons. After winning the World Series last season, they’re yet to make a Cup final this time around.

New Zealand were beaten by Argentina in a thrilling SVNS Dubai semi-final, but that’s as good as it’s been for them this season. They were fortunate to make the Cup quarters in Cape Town after placing third in their pool behind arch-rivals Australia and Canada.

There’s no question these results have been shockingly poor. It’s not what fans expect of their New Zealand rugby heroes, and it’s not what the players want either.

After their shortcomings in Perth over the Australia Day long weekend, the men in black are sixth on the overall standings. They’re 18 points away from the drop – only the top eight sides qualify for the Grand Final in Madrid – and 26 points shy of series leaders Argentina.

But Dickson said it himself, the All Blacks Sevens aren’t “stressing.”

While it would be naïve to suggest that there’s absolutely no cause for concern, there’s every reason to be wary of the threat the All Blacks Sevens pose heading into the rest of the SVNS Series season.

After all, they’ve been here before.

New Zealand only won one overall series title between the 2014/15 season and the end of 2021/22. They emerged victorious after a six-tournament 2019/20 campaign.

While everyone expected the All Blacks Sevens to be in the mix last season, whether they’re the favourites was up to interpretation. But after a few rounds, their title credentials seemingly become clear.

New Zealand started the season as the bowl final ‘winners’ in Hong Kong China, third in Dubai, runners-up to Samoa in Cape Town and runners-up to Argentina in Hamilton.

It could’ve been easy to write that team off as a mere pretender, but the All Blacks Sevens continued to build behind the scenes and eventually, it all clicked.

The New Zealanders won five of the next seven Cup finals.

But what can the past teach sevens fans about the present?

They’re capable of turning it on, and once they do, New Zealand be up there with the best of the best once again.

So, take Sam Dickson’s advice. The players aren’t “stressing” and neither should their fans – instead it’s the rugby warriors and supporters from other nations who should be wary of how much the All Blacks Sevens are flying under the radar as contenders.

You can never write off New Zealand. Don’t poke the bear.

Next up on the SVNS Series is an event in Vancouver from February 23 to 25. Those interested in watching some of the world’s best rugby while enjoying the best party in town can get tickets HERE.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *