In a pointer to the beginning of a New Year, two new sides secured the New Zealand National Sevens titles in 2018. Waikato men and the Manawatu women saw off all challengers, to earn the coveted provincial crowns.
Both had fought off the current holders, Counties-Manukau. The men having succeeded in pool play and the women avenged their heavy defeat of the 2017 final.
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) January 14, 2018
All these results play out, with the 2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series returning in two weekends time. So the outcome from this weekend gave both titles and also reinforced the selections of men’s and women’s players for the national representative teams.
By next week, all squads will be finalized by Clark Laidlaw and Alan Bunting, before the final series of practises will be completed at the NZ 7’s national training hub, at Mount Maunganui*.
New Sides Secure New Zealand National Sevens Titles in 2018
Over the two days, many results went as predicted. The one glaring omission being the Counties-Manukau men’s side. Champions of 2017, they were less impressive–beaten by Waikato 12-17 and by Taranaki, 12-19. Those losses reduced the South Auckland sides chances, fighting for Bowl by late Sunday.
The Counties women fared just a little better, but were humbled twice by their neighbours Auckland. First on Day One, and then in the 3rd/4th playoff, where Auckland again triumphed. Those results see a shift of power, as each province invests more and more resources into the sevens game.
A with new sides securing the 2018 title, it demonstrates how teams like Waikato, Manawatu, Tasman, Canterbury and Wellington all now place more focus on developing squads. Fully focused on the sport. No longer an ‘off season play about’ the specialists like Sevu Reece and Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Selica Winiata each training hard for the New Zealand National Sevens tournament.
2018 New Zealand National Sevens Results –
Men’s Cup Final: Waikato 21 Tasman 17
Women’s Cup Final: Manawatu 17 Waikato 15
- Men’s Plate Final: Bay of Plenty 31 Auckland 12
- Women’s Plate Final: Bay of Plenty 36 Wellington 7
- Men’s Bowl Final: Counties-Manukau 26 Canterbury 5
- Women’s Bowl Final: Southland 25 North Harbour 0
- Men’s Cup Semi Finals: Waikato 22 Wellington 5 | Tasman 17 Taranaki 12
- Women’s Cup Semi Finals: Waikato 24 Counties 0 | Manawatu 14 Auckland 12
- Men’s Cup Quarter Finals: Waikato 35 Auckland 0 | North Harbour 12 Wellington 15 | Tasman 24 Manawatu 12 | Bay of Plenty 17 Taranaki 24
- Women’s Cup Quarter Finals: Waikato 26 Canterbury 0 | Bay of Plenty 21 Counties 22 | Auckland 33 Otago 0 | Manawatu 22 Wellington 14
Bay of Plenty fans were again pleased by the manner in which the local teams represented the region. Led by Keyy Brazier, the women again took away a title, as did the men–defeating Auckland, who seemed on course until Waikato swept them aside.
The Auckland women too played well, with Niall Williams (sister of Sonny Bill) in try scoring mode. Looking to break into the Black Ferns Sevens squad, she played well along with men like James Lash of Tasman. Both showed a high level of sevens rugby skill this weekend.
And with these results, star players like Stacey Waaka and Tone Ng Shiu will await the call from national head coaches. They will use this weekends intense competition as a warm-up, before aiming for the Sydney Sevens.
* Mount Maunganui will now look to host the next National Sevens tournament, as Rotorua end their term as the home of the Bayleys sponsored tournament.
Run at various venues across the country, since leaving Queenstown many have perceived the tournaments appeal to be waning. That is matched in poor attendance–magnified on television footage–so the move to ‘the Mount’ may well see better crowds, at the 2019 event.
“Main photo credit”
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