Coaches reflect on NZ’s ‘disappointing’ Cape Town SVNS campaigns
For the second time in as many weeks, both the Black Ferns and All Blacks Sevens fell short of cup final glory as they went down swinging against world-class opposition in Cape Town last weekend.
For both New Zealand’s women’s and men’s sides, their rise to world champion status in 2022/23 is now firmly in the past. At least so far, they’ve been unable to repeat those heroics this season.
The Australian women’s team ended New Zealand’s incredible 41-game unbeaten run at the Dubai SVNS earlier this month, and the women in black failed to bounce back a week later.
Playing under the sun on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in the Western Cape, the Black Ferns Sevens’ quest for Cape Town SVNS glory was brought to an end by giant slayers France.
Two first-half tries to Anne-Cecile Ciofani helped Les Tricolores build a commanding lead in their semi-final as they ran away with a hard-fought 24-12 victory.
New Zealand packed a punch and looked every chance of a comeback during most of the second term, but France were too good – adding to their score when a player was sent to the sin bin.
For a team that was practically prefect during their ascent to World Series glory last season, the Black Ferns Sevens have some work to do ahead of a “massive year” in 2024.
“Disappointing with the result but I guess that’s sevens,” coach Cory Sweeney said on NZR+.
“Five key moments in that French game cost us the game. Outside of that we probably played some really nice rugby this weekend.
“I’m really proud of the group and how they’ve stuck together for the last three weeks. We’ve seen some really nice growth from Dubai to Cape Town and I guess that sets us up for the new year, 2024, which is going to be a massive year with the World Series and building to the Olympics.”
The All Blacks Sevens’ came within a few points of making the Dubai SVNS final to open the 2023/24 season, but they didn’t come close to repeating that feat a week later in Cape Town.
While the New Zealand women’s team marched into another semi-final as favourites, the men were fortunate to make the knockout rounds at all after an uncharacteristically poor run in pool play.
New Zealand were beaten by Dubai SVNS wooden spooners Canada to kick-off their weekend, and another loss to Samoa saw the men in black qualify for the quarters as one of the two ‘best’ third-placed sides.
But the quarter-finals is where their hopes of Cape Town SVNS glory came to an end as Ireland beat the New Zealanders for the first time on the SVNS Series.
“Obviously disappointed (with) the way we performed this week,” All Blacks Sevens coach Tomasi Cama said.
“There’s good signs (and) good lessons that we can take away and build on.
“It just shows how ruthless the World Series is at the moment… teams are getting better as well so we have to get better.”
But the All Blacks Sevens were able to finish their campaign “on a high” as they silenced the Cape Town crowd with a clinical 31-7 win over hometown favourites the Blitzboks.
“Obviously disappointed with the overall of how the tournament has gone for us,” captain Sione Molia told RugbyPass in Cape Town.
“We talked about winning the start well and we obviously hadn’t done that so it was good to play South Africa in that last game and get one over them, especially here in Cape Town.
“We know it’s a real tough battle against South Africa here at home and it’s just good to finish on a high and reflect on what we could do better heading into the New Year.”
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