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All Blacks Sevens ‘struggling’ for consistency on mixed day in Vancouver

By Finn Morton
Joe Webber runs the ball during Day One at SVNS Vancouver. Picture: World Rugby.

After losing their first match to South Africa at SVNS Vancouver, New Zealand bounced back with a bit of a statement win over Ireland at BC Place Stadium on Friday night.

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Veteran Joe Webber, who returned to the SVNS Series for the first time since last year’s trip to North America, got the Kiwis onto the front foot by opening the scoring in the first minute.

Akuila Rokolisoa and Tepaea Cook Savage also made their mark on the scoreboard as the New Zealanders raced out to a 12-point lead, with a late Ireland try reducing the score to 19-14.

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That victory has put the All Blacks Sevens in good stead heading into the second day of play, with the New Zealanders sitting third after two games in pool C.

But the maths is truly quite simple. If the All Blacks Sevens beat Pool C leaders Great Britain on Saturday then they’ll be playing in the quarters for the first time this year.

“The Series now, every game is so hard. We’re struggling to find our flow a bit,” Webber told RugbyPass on Day One in Vancouver.

“We talked after the first game that it was just everything that we can control… just got to find our flow.”

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The defeat to arch-rivals South Africa hurt, and that was clear as the All Blacks Sevens disappeared down the tunnel and away from the watchful eyes of fans on Day One.

It added to New Zealand’s growing list of unwanted results in the 2023/24 season to date, with the memories of last month’s ninth-place finish in Perth still fresh in everyone’s minds.

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New Zealand placed third in Dubai, but they haven’t come close to replicating that feat since. They were knocked out in the Cape Town quarters and failed to make it out of the pool in Perth.

For a team that expects excellence, this season hasn’t quite gone to plan.

“You can definitely feel it when the boys come home and it’s frustrating when it’s just small errors, small moments that we’re not winning, but that’s the game of sevens,” Webber said.

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“We love it. It’s just the challenge of trying to stay consistent is the hardest thing.

“A lot of injuries, a lot of chopping and changing. Once we get consistent with our flow, hopefully, we can start putting some performances together.

“It’s just winning the small moments and everything we can control. All the small details that we’re not getting not getting right.”

After the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Webber always planned to take a 10-month break before the now-upcoming Paris Games in July.

Webber stepped away from the SVNS Series to take part in a Maori language program in New Zealand and to also undergo a shoulder reconstruction ahead of a return.

But Webber’s inclusion in the squad for Vancouver is a major boost. Webber and the New Zealanders will face Great Britain in the first men’s game on Day Two.

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