The All Blacks Sevens extended their record as the most successful team on home soil in the history of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a 27-5 defeat of France in the HSBC New Zealand Sevens Cup final.
The title was New Zealand’s 10th on home soil but the first in Hamilton, having won their last title in Wellington in 2016. It was also their 60th title in series history and the second of season after victory in Cape Town last month.
France, playing in their first ever Cup final in New Zealand, were on the back foot early on after Tavite Veredamu was sin-binned for not being back 10 metres, All Blacks Sevens co-captain Scott Curry powered through two defenders seconds later to open the scoring.
Veredamu quickly atoned for his indiscretion, scooping up a pass almost rolled around the ground by Remi Siega with one hand to cut the deficit to two points after the conversion drifted left.
France were dealt two blows when Jonathan Laugel was sin-binned for a neck roll and New Zealand made their man advantage count, Regan Ware just keeping his foot in touch as he grounded the ball behind him for a 12-5 lead at half-time.
Ware added a second before Curry scored twice to seal victory and extend the All Blacks Sevens’ advantage at the top of the standings from nothing to 15 points over South Africa, who could only finish 10th in Hamilton, and France on 48 points with England fourth on 39.
All Blacks Sevens co-captain Tim Mikkelson said: “The French have that flair and they’re a team on the rise, they’re playing extremely well. We haven’t gone that well the last couple of years so we felt like we owed it to the crowd and to our families here to go well this tournament.
“Everything we do we do it for each other, it doesn’t matter if you start or come off the bench, you’ve got a role to play. The boys are just keen to work for each other. To play in front of our families is something special and to do that in front of our families and to win it is even better.”
The teams now head across the Tasman to Australia for the HSBC Sydney Sevens at Bankwest Stadium on 1-2 February, round four of the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 concludes in Paris, France on 30-31 May before 24 men’s and women’s teams will travel to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where rugby sevens will be played for a second time from 27 July – 1 August.