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Black Ferns Sevens win World Sevens Series in historic fashion

By Ned Lester
Portia Woodman celebrates the Black Ferns Sevens' victory. Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images

Women’s rugby in New Zealand is in a superbly dominant era. The women in black claimed more silverware overnight in Toulouse, securing their seventh World Sevens Series title after a historically dominant season.

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After falling short in Dubai – partly due to the absence of Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, Stacey Waaka, Theresa Fitzpatrick and Sarah Hirini, who were all enjoying well-deserved breaks after their victory with the Black Ferns in last year’s Rugby World Cup – the team has been on a tear, winning five straight tournaments.

The world-first achievement of winning five tournaments consecutively left the Ferns with the elementary task of claiming just two wins in the series’ final stop of France, as those wins would secure their place in the quarter-finals and lift their points total beyond the reach of second place Australia.

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The two matches that lay between the Ferns and victory were Poland and the USA, unfortunately for those sides, the Kiwis weren’t shying away from their big moment, securing wins with scores of 50-0 and 31-12 respectively.

“It’s a brilliant feeling,” head coach Corey Sweeney said of the win. “Unreal. And to do it with a few games up our sleeve is pretty special.

“It’s a great moment but you can even feel in the team that the job’s not done. So we’ll celebrate at some point and we’re really stoked with the outcome, but we’ve got a job to do this weekend.”

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The tournament continues Saturday and the Ferns eye their sixth straight title, hoping to celebrate their achievement without sharing the podium.

The team has threaded the perfect line between experience and youth in 2023, as Kelly Brazier, Sarah Hirini, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, and Tyla Nathan-Wong have been part of all seven of the Black Ferns Sevens Series titles while Jazmin Felix-Hotham, Mahina Paul, and Jorja Miller taste glory for the first time.

Jorja Miller was a standout amongst a handful of rookies who got an opportunity to prove themselves in Dubai, with the team claiming a silver medal despite missing the services of the aforementioned Black Ferns players. It was Miller who ignited the Black Ferns’ attack on Friday after the USA had the game locked up at 12-12 in the Series-deciding match.

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In the men’s Series, the All Black Sevens will need to make the final in order to join the Ferns in the celebrations and claim Sevens Series glory. The men currently sit 24 points clear of Argentina with one more tournament to play, in London next weekend.

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