On Sunday, New Zealand became the first side to win back-to-back Rugby World Cup Sevens titles after defeating England 33-12 in San Francisco. It capped a brilliant weekend for New Zealand rugby as the Black Ferns Sevens had the previous day successfully defended the women's title with a 29-0 victory over France.
We hear from some of the leading protagonists about how the silverware was won.
The All Blacks Sevens
All Blacks Sevens co-captain Tim Mikkelson says the win against France was key to them defending their title.
"The group have worked so hard with the new coaches and we’re so pleased to get a result at the end of the day. To have three players yellow-carded in one half against France and still end up winning the game gave us so much belief, and we took that into the Fiji game and built a bit of momentum and then took it into the final against England. It’s good to be in the good times at the moment; there were a lot of hard times for a couple of years when we were working hard but not quite getting results so this is so sweet. The women put pressure on us by getting the result before we played – like at the Commonwealth Games – and it is awesome that we could match them. It is huge to have two titles in one year. Credit to the coaching staff, Clarky (Clark Laidlaw) has come in and he is huge on the culture and he has really brought us close. Hopefully, this is just a small part of things to come."
Every try, full match replays and all the action from Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018:— Rugby World Cup Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 25, 2018
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Two-time RWC Sevens champion Kurt Baker admits it has been quite a journey for New Zealand to get to where they are today.
"We are building something pretty special within our group. We have guys at home who pushed us all to the limits so this was a massive squad effort. We just tried to keep ahead of the game and control what we could control. Four wins, the World Cup … you can’t get any better, can you? We are growing a lot as a group. When Clark took over at the end of last year, the team was in a pretty tough spot and performances probably weren't where I suppose New Zealand rugby expected them to be and even where the players expected them to be. We worked really hard to build a culture; the boys are really tight as a group, and the results speak for themselves."
Two-try hero Sione Molia hailed the team spirit within the group.
"It’s hard to find the words to describe how I feel, I’m speechless. I suppose it is just like the Comm Games with both ourselves and the women winning. Centralisation played a big part, getting to know the boys on and off the field created a strong bond and then we come out on the pitch everyone is backing each other."
Assistant coach Tomasi Cama enjoyed his own double - winning Rugby World Cup Sevens as a player and as a coach
"Both are special in so many ways. As a player to do all the hard work and get out there and win the Melrose Cup was different. Obviously, this time I was up in the stand and sending messages down whenever I could, knowing that I couldn’t be out there and do anything about it. But it is so pleasing to see the boys come through and get the result after all their hard work. To win the Melrose Cup back to back is amazing. I totally believe in the players and all the work we have done all year and this week. We nailed the detail on how we want to play and to see that come through was really pleasing. It is a starting point for us, there are a lot of young players coming through our system and there is a long way for us to go, but it shows what you can achieve when you go to tournaments with a good plan and execute it. We’ll enjoy this and see where the programme will go from here. We have to keep learning and growing to make sure the next chapter is a good one."
"It's amazing to see that New Zealand were behind us and supported us the whole way" - Fresh from their history making #RWC7s title in San Francisco, the #BlackFerns7s have arrived back in New Zealand. pic.twitter.com/0wjzxciOuB— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) July 23, 2018
Black Ferns Sevens
Speedster Portia Woodman, a try scorer in the final against France, believes this year's loss to the USA in Dubai gave the Black Ferns Sevens the hunger to win gold again.
"At the moment, it is a little bit surreal and it hasn’t quite sunk in, but to know that we have won it twice in a row is incredible. We have had an awesome year with the Comm Games and every other tournament since that; this was the icing on the cake. The quarter-final loss we had to the USA in Dubai made the fire bigger and stronger and we wanted to come back so much better after that. We have kind of grown in each tournament since then. We love being in each other’s company so when we get on the field, we do what we can for each other."
For Ruby Tui, who missed the Commonwealth Games due to Mumps, victory was extra special.
"It is unreal. We have been training a long time and this has been one of THE longest seasons we've ever had. We've had the world series, we've had a Commonwealth Games and now we've had an amazing World Cup; San Francisco has knocked it out of the park. When you think back to the last World Cup in 2013, the game has had phenomenal growth and I am just so grateful to have been a part of it. We came out here to do the same thing we always do – and that’s to put our training out there on the park and respect every single team. France are an amazing team: ferocious, passionate and they run hard. I am so proud of the girls that we kept them scoreless. The level the game is out there makes it really exciting and makes you wonder what the next World Cup will be like."
Captain Sarah Goss couldn't be prouder of her side and is looking forward to showing off the trophy back home.
"It was cool that some of us came back from 2013 to try and defend the title but I thought the girls who were playing in their first World Cup were amazing throughout the four games. I am just really, really happy we are taking the World Cup home to New Zealand. When you wear that black jersey, you are always going to have super powers and get up for whatever game because, whenever we play teams, they will stand up against you. To play at AT&T Park, one of the most famous baseball stadiums in the world, is an opportunity I might not ever get again so I am just going to suck it all in. I can't wait to take the World Cup back home and show it to the girls who trained with us but unfortunately weren't here, because they are part of this success."