Both teams travel to USA this weekend as defending World Cup champions with a high-stakes new knock-out format effectively equalising the playing field for the 24 countries in the men’s tournament, and 16 national unions in the women’s field.
In naming the squads at the new home of New Zealand Sevens high performance – Mt Maunganui – New Zealand Rugby’s Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said excitement was growing as the tournament approached.
“The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens captured the nation’s attention with stunning gold medal wins at the Commonwealth Games and we look forward to seeing their performances in San Francisco.
“Rugby is growing as a global sport, and to play a World Cup tournament in San Francisco opens up a whole new audience, so we know there will be a lot of interest in this tournament.
“We wish the teams, and coaches Clark Laidlaw and Allan Bunting, the very best of luck for their campaigns, and we look forward to them doing us proud and continuing to inspire the next generation of sevens stars,” said Cass.
Who are the bolters, where's Vilimoni Koroi and how will the @WorldRugby7s World Cup format suit the team? #AllBlacks7s coach Clark Laidlaw explains all HERE ➡️ https://t.co/ahlwb4HvIj#RWC7s pic.twitter.com/UY4EPHzc2G— AllBlacks7s (@AllBlacks7s) July 10, 2018
The All Blacks Sevens team is;
Kurt Baker (Manawatu)
Dylan Collier (Waikato)
Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty) (Captain)
Trael Joass (Tasman)
Andrew Knewstubb (Horowhenua Kapiti)
Jona Nareki (Otago)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato) (Captain)
Sione Molia (Counties Manukau)
Salesi Rayasi (Auckland)
Joe Ravouvou (Auckland)
Akuila Rokolisoa (Auckland)
Regan Ware (Bay of Plenty)
Unavailable due to injury: Joe Webber, Amanaki Nicole, Sam Dickson, Etene Nanai-Seturo and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black.
All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw said the unique nature of the knock out competition contributed to it being a difficult squad to select.
“Getting the balance of the squad right was the main thing. It’s a different tournament in that its four games instead of six and we can only take 12 players, so we were looking to have flexibility in the 12 in terms of the positions they cover.
“No team has ever won back to back World Cup titles since it’s started so we have certainly talked about that and about being the first team to change that. We know there are massive challenges to come, all the teams will be really well prepared,” said Laidlaw.
The All Blacks Sevens will play the winner of Russia v Hong Kong in their first match on Saturday July 21 (kick off 07.31 UAE time)
#BlackFerns7s coach Allan Bunting says the game now is so much stronger and faster than when they claimed the world title in Moscow back in 2013.— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) July 10, 2018
READ: https://t.co/XPYIqJNa40#RWC7s pic.twitter.com/KBkCT6a6MG
The Black Ferns Sevens team is;
Shakira Baker (Waikato)
Michaela Blyde (Bay of Plenty)
Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)
Gayle Broughton (Bay of Plenty)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland)
Sarah Goss (Manawatu) (Captain)
Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland)
Ruby Tui (Bay of Plenty)
Stacey Waaka (Waikato)
Niall Williams (Auckland)
Tenika Willison (Waikato)
Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)
Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting said this was the most challenging squad he has ever had to name.
“It was definitely hard but that’s exactly where we want to be. In our trials there was so much motivation, excitement and skill set; we know we have selected the right team.
“We have had a good year, but this group is strict on themselves, we think we have room to improve and those last bits we need to get right are the toughest.
“Our players are incredibly motivated, playing in an amazing stadium and having the chance to leave mana there, to inspire other women, this is another great opportunity for our team,” said Bunting.
The Black Ferns Sevens face Mexico in their opening match of the World Cup on Friday 20 July (kick off 22.50 Friday July 21 UAE time).
The reigning World Champions in both men’s and women’s Sevens, as well as men’s and women’s Fifteens, both teams also claimed the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
This is the first time Black Ferns Sevens jerseys have been made available for purchase, a nod to the international success of the team and their growing fan base.
The Dark Energy jersey designs see the latest technology aligned with a sleek new design, featuring the team crests and “energised ferns” throughout.
New Zealand Rugby Head of Sponsorship Megan Compain said having both jerseys available for sale was great for fans of Sevens.
“It’s been a big year for both our sevens teams, no one will forget their heroics at the Commonwealth Games, bringing home double gold after exceptional campaigns.
“It is fantastic to see the success of the Black Ferns Sevens being recognised with their jerseys been made available for public sale for the first time and we expect they will be a popular item.
“We know the teams are working hard as they prepare to defend their World Cup crowns, so having the public able to show their support with these new jerseys is great,” said Compain.
Quentin Bleakley, adidas New Zealand Country Manager is excited to see the new jerseys in action this month.
“We’ve made many technical and visual changes to the new Sevens range for both teams which will benefit each athlete and their ability to deliver what they need to on the field. From lightweight fabric through to minimal seams and refined bands, each design change is aimed to help players preform to their best on what is arguably the biggest stage that they will face in their athletic career,” said Bleakley.
Jerseys are available for purchase online at allblackshop.com and selected retail outlets.
The Springbok Sevens squad assembled in Mossel Bay on Sunday for a final training camp before departure to San Francisco, where the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament will be played at AT&T Park from 20-22 July.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell will name his final 12-man squad on Wednesday and will use the next four days in the Southern Cape to fine-tune preparations for their final event of the 2017/18 season.
The Blitzboks last month won the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series crown for a second consecutive season and also placed fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April, with the Melrose Cup – the only major silverware yet to be owned by South Africa – the final hurdle in a bumper season.
“We are now fully focussed on what we want to achieve in San Francisco and all our planning is geared towards being ready to that first match,” said Powell.
“The format of the Rugby World Cup Sevens is such that no team can afford even the slightest slip up, and we need to ensure our timing is right.”
South Africa will face the winner of Ireland and Chile in their first match of the event, on Saturday, 21 July (06h15 SA time).
“We will be fine-tuning all aspects of our play this week,” said Powell.
“The game plan is well drilled in as we have just played finished the World Series, but the application and commitment comes with every match we play. “
The Blitzboks played a warm-up match against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg last week and Powell was pleased with the outcome: “The first highlight was that all players came through that without any new injury concerns, while guys such as Rosko Specman and Selvyn Davids showed good progress in their return to play phase of recovery.”
Powell confirmed that Chris Dry and Stedman Gans will not form part of the final week as they will not be fit to play next weekend. The team will train at Van Riebeeck Sports Stadium in Mossel Bay on Monday and Tuesday.