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‘Hard to take’: Black Ferns Sevens ‘gutted’ after falling short of SVNS crown

By Finn Morton
New Zealand huddle together at the SVNS Series Grand Final. Picture: World Rugby.

When Tia Hinds nailed a tough conversion from near the left sideline to book Australia’s spot in the SVNS Series’ Championship Final, the women in gold went berserk. They swarmed the goal-kicking heroine after a famous come-from-behind win on Sunday afternoon.


But there are two sides to that tale. While the Aussies went frantic in a euphoric state of relief, passion and celebration, their arch-rivals New Zealand dropped their heads after squandering a strong lead with only a minute to go.

Faith Nathan scored in the final minute of play, and try-scoring machine Maddison Levi crossed for the match-leveller two minutes into stoppage time. With the SVNS Series Grand Final being a winner-takes-all event, New Zealand lost their chance to become world champions.

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The Black Ferns Sevens had also lost to Canada on day two after going behind 26-nil. While they managed to fight their way back with 17 points of their own, the result was never in doubt as the Canadians claimed a famous win.


New Zealand snuck into the semi-finals. Then, for them to lose the way they did against Australia, it’s not hard to understand why the Black Ferns Sevens were “gutted” but they still found time for their fans.

After getting some payback with a 26-14 win over the Canadians in the third-place playoff, players including Tyla King, Jorja Miller, the injured Sarah Hirini and Jazmin Felix-Hotham spent anywhere between five to 15 minutes signing autographs and taking pictures.

Felix-Hotham’s white New Zealand jersey was covered in blood after cutting her finger, but the 23-year-old did joke about wanting a better war story to explain the stains. There was a time to laugh in this interview but also quite a serious moment to reflect.


The Black Ferns Sevens fell short of their goal on the SVNS Series, but the “big, big dance” is just around the corner with the Paris Olympics set to get underway at Stade de France next month.

“Naturally, our team were real gutted, especially when we put it down to a few moments that were on us, not on them, so that’s always hard to take,” Felix-Hotham told RugbyPass.

“These tournaments, you lose a match and then you have to try and get up and play another one. For us, simulating it like the Olympics – against Canada, that was to get up and get a bronze medal so that was really important and we managed to get the job done.

“That’s all that matters and we’re just lucky that this isn’t the big, big dance, we have the pinnacle event still to come.”



Earlier in the season, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe told this writer about how defeats can be a good thing for a team. Losses can often by a catalyst for change or reflection.

New Zealand had won the last four Cup finals on the SVNS Series up until that point after emerging as by far the team to beat. They triumphed in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong China and Singapore to claim the regular season crown.

So, those losses to Canada and Australia left everyone at the Spanish venue stunned. But the Black Ferns Sevens at least had an opportunity to finish their SVNS Series season on a high note by claiming some revenge of sorts in the process.

Canada scored first through Charity Williams, but Mahina Paul and Theresa Setefano helped the Kiwis take a 12-7 lead into the break. Alena Saili and Jorja Miller also got on the scoresheet in the second term as they ran away with a convincing 12-point win.

“It’s always a good feeling when you actually get the opportunity to come up against a team that you have lost to,” Felix-Hotham explained.

“That game against Canada, we put it down to some real uncharacteristic moments that happened.

“To go out there and put in a performance that we’re actually proud of, and finish the tournament on a high is always good.”

But then, after making their way up the tunnel and away from the watchful eyes of eager fans at the home of European football powerhouse Atletico Madrid, the SVNS Series League winners would’ve regrouped after claiming bronze.

The Olympics are just around the corner, and this Black Ferns Sevens outfit will be eager and intent to write some wrongs on the world’s biggest sporting stage.

Relive all of the SVNS Madrid action for free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final on demand, register HERE.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV


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1 Comment
T-Bone 20 days ago

What sort of ridiculous format this year where the title was won recently and over a whole season only to have winner takes all here?

Not just the Ferns (look hey nothing between them and Aus who deserved this win) but Argentina who have been the best team all year then France with that freak for a couple of tournaments wins the overall title?

Forget the Olympics - unrelated and of course that is a one off tournament

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