After showing great consistency, and lasting the distance with only two fit reserves for the Cup final, the New Zealand men earn their first HSBC Dubai Sevens title since 2009.
In a great return for the Clark Laidlaw coached squad, the All Blacks Sevens team eclipsed all others in Pool play, to progress through the knockout stages. There, they were challenged at every corner, before exploding the major Cup final to hold down the United States, to win 19-5.
The two sides had played exceptional rugby sevens; New Zealand using their teamwork and instinct to attack to step past Scotland, avoided an upset from Argentina, before England put a real fright into the camp. Just claiming the win 7-5, it was a credit to the strength of the squad, as players succumbed to injury and exhaustion.
So for the nine fit players to all combine to score three tries and, importantly, to deny possession to the dangerous US Eagles. OnlyStephen Tomasin was able to cross the line in a two minute Yellow Card period, and the Kiwis did well to deny the ‘Speedstick’ Perry Baker any room to show his speed.
Winning with the final movement of the game, when Ngarohi McGarvey Black scored on the final play of the game, to conclude a more than eventful two days to a close, had the support staff and injured players up on their feet.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 1, 2018
The elation was in part, due to the sides ability to continue to succeed after co-captain Scott Curry, Regan Ware, Sam Dickson and Akuila Rokokisoa were all unable to play the final. no wonder they reacted with such emotion. The first New Zealand win since 2009, it is a result better than expected.
And one that promotes New Zealand into the lead of the 2018/19 HSBC Sevens Series, ahead of the Cape Town Sevens next weekend.
New Zealand men earn first HSBC Dubai Sevens title since 2009
During any International rugby sevens tournament, each teams progress can be paired to others success, or failure. In reality, the All Blacks Sevens team can be as proud of their own accomplishments, as they may be of some of their opponent’s ‘misfortune’.
In a knockout competition, for one team to reach the higher stages, another is beaten. And those teams beaten at the Dubai Sevens, were South Africa and Fiji. Two of the major competitors of the season, and with their demise, that opened the way for New Zealand to triumph.
When Argentina defeated the Blitzboks 12-17, it meant that the South Africans ended up on the wrong side of the draw. And then again in Cup quarterfinals, England ended the defending champions hopes of a three-peat. Beaten 5-22, that meant the Neil Powell coached side were further upset, when Fiji claimed fifth place – not where either side had aimed for.
Fiji walked from the field still dejected, as they rued poor results on Day Three. Looking to take advantage of the defending champions mis-step, the Fijian team themselves got upended by eventual Cup finalists USA. The Eagles flew-in and stole a classic 14-24 result, showing how the American side can defeat any team on the World series circuit.
RECAP | With a commanding performance against Olympic Champion Fiji, we're #Dubai7s Semifinal bound 🙌 🇺🇸
NEXT UP | Australia at 7:39 AM ET on ESPN+.
— USA Rugby (@USARugby) December 1, 2018
So while that side went down to eventual champions New Zealand, the Kiwis should recognize how one team’s failure, has benefitted them overall. Being able to have an easier run toward the final that did not include either Fiji or South Africa, has ultimately given New Zealand maximum points this weekend.
Draw made for HSBC Cape Town Sevens
Aside from the winners and losers here at the Dubai leg of the circuit, next week all teams will again need to place their best foot forward.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 1, 2018
If the news of this grouping can point to one thing, it is that no team [or media outlet] can verify a tournament draw or pre-season predictions as a rule. Because as most will have experienced after watching the 2018 HSBC Dubai Sevens tournament, it is that ‘no team’ can guarantee any certainty of success.
So as Kiwi rugby fans rejoice of an early season victory for both the men’s and women’s team’s, they should not get overly excited. The side had positive results, helped by others falling by the wayside. It was not luck, as the team is certainly willing and able, but after the match head coach Clark Laidlaw told media, “to crack on and pull a win off with nine players is something when we look back and reflect we are going to be really proud of.
“I’m hugely proud and it’s a really encouraging start to the series”.
The Springbok Sevens team will face Zimbabwe, Samoa and New Zealand on the opening day on Saturday, with the Blitzboks’ clash against the All Blacks Sevens concluding what promises to be a scintillating day of action. #nextlevel7s pic.twitter.com/GYMnLOO6Gi
— HSBC Cape Town 7s (@CapeTown7s) December 2, 2018
In one clear omen of the HSBC Sevens Series for others to be concerned about, is that every team who has won the opening leg of the series in recent years has gone onto claim the HSBC World title. Fans of New Zealand might hope that their side can continue that trend, as they end a drought of nine years without an HSBC Dubai Sevens title.
That was, after fellow challengers failed in the regular and knockout stages. However, that may not occur in Cape Town, so Clark Laidlaw must fly in his replacements – Vilimoni Koroi one who may be on a plane already – to be sure that a good start for the New Zealand men, does not erode too quickly, under the intense pressure of the World Rugby Sevens Series.