New Zealand romped to victory in both the women’s and men’s finals of the HSBC Sydney Sevens to increase their leads at the top of the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series 2023 standings.
It is the first time the teams in black have achieved such a tournament double since Hamilton in 2020.
The Black Ferns Sevens beat France 35-0 while the men improved on that slightly with a 38-0 victory against South Africa for their first Cup title of the 2023 Series.
It was the All Black Sevens’ fourth-biggest Cup final win in history and helped to make this year’s tournament the highest try-scoring event in Sydney ever with an incredible 459 tries scored across the weekend.
With three tournaments remaining, the Black Ferns Sevens are 12 points ahead of their nearest rivals Australia, who failed to make the last four on home turf, while New Zealand’s men are now nine points clear of the Blitzboks after five rounds of action.
Despite being well beaten in the showpiece match, France’s women will take plenty of positives from Sydney having reached their first Cup final in almost five years.
Meanwhile, the ultra-consistent USA claimed their third bronze medal of the Series after edging out Ireland 12-5.
Fiji’s men returned to the podium for the first time since they finished runners-up in the opening tournament in Hong Kong after beating France 29-5 in the bronze medal decider.
With unprecedented floods ravaging Auckland, Black Ferns Sevens-winning captain Sarah Hirini used her post-match interview to send her love to those affected back home before thanking the Kiwi fans inside the Allianz Stadium.
“Back-to-backs are pretty hard and to come over here and have the support we’ve had, we love you guys, thank you. We’re glad we could put on a show,” she said.
Player of the Match Jorja Miller added: “We’ve been working really hard, this group, since the girls came back from 15s and I am really proud of how we grew together and progressed through the games.”
After silver medal finishes in Cape Town and Hamilton, All Blacks Sevens captain Sam Dickson was delighted that his side finally got over the line.
“I’m so proud of the boys, we’ve been trying a while now, making a few finals but just missing out,” he said.
“It was an unreal tournament for us, it’s about time we had a polished performance like that.
“Our main goal is to qualify for the Olympics and to win the World Series. This is an absolute bonus.”
Player of the Final Joe Webber added: “To hold South Africa to nil is pretty impressive. The boys have been working really hard over the last couple of months and we really deserved that one.”
The 2023 Series is proving to be the most competitive in history with five different winners – Argentina, Australia, Samoa, South Africa and now New Zealand – in the five men’s tournaments played so far.
The prize of Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification on offer for the top four women’s and men’s teams in the 2023 Series standings means every match counts, while hosts France have pre-qualified for next summer’s pinnacle event in the nation’s capital.
The stakes couldn’t be higher at the bottom end of the men’s Series this season as well. Following the penultimate event in Toulouse, the 15th ranked team will be relegated to the 2024 Sevens Challenger Series while the 12th through 14th ranked teams will face off against the Sevens Challenger Series 2023 winner for the 12th and final position on the 2024 Series.
The 2023 Series continues with a men’s round in Los Angeles on 25-26 February, while the women are next in action in a combined event in Vancouver on 3-5 March.
The men’s pools for Los Angeles see New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Chile in Pool A. South Africa, Ireland, Uruguay and Canada are in Pool B. Olympic champions Fiji are in Pool C together with Series title holders Australia, Kenya and Japan. Pool D includes France, Great Britain, Argentina and Spain.
The women’s pools for Vancouver have New Zealand, Fiji, Great Britain and Colombia in Pool A. Reigning Series champions Australia will be looking to bounce back in Pool B against France, Japan and Spain. Pool C sees the USA together with Ireland, Canada and Brazil.