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'Disappointing to say the least': World Cup-winning Black Fern left saddened

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

After successfully making the switch from sevens to fifteens for the Black Ferns’ World Cup campaign last November, captain Sarah Hirini has returned to the Sevens circuit.

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However the Black Ferns inspirational openside has been left disappointed as the Olympic gold medallists will be playing on New Zealand soil for the last time.

Hamilton lost the hosting rights for the World Sevens Series after a ‘shake-up’ for the tournament which means the 2023 tournament will be the last in New Zealand, ending over 20-years of involvement.

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The Black Ferns Sevens have won the Women’s World Sevens Series a record six times since the circuit began in 2012/13, and have only failed to make the final once in the nine tournaments.

Hirini took to Twitter to express her dismay at the decision that will leave the most successful team without a chance to play at home from next year.

“Still can’t believe this will be the last time NZ Sevens will play on home soil in Aotearoa. The last time,” she wrote.

The 30-year-old highlighted the Black Ferns recent success hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup as evidence that the Sevens could continue to host successful events in New Zealand.

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“After how successful the Rugby World Cup went how much Womens rugby has grown because of it. It’s disappointing to say the least.”

The new World Series Sevens circuit is scheduled to begin in December this year and will feature seven destinations over seven rounds of play but NZR confirmed that they would not be one of the destinations.

New Zealand’s involvement on the circuit has had it’s issues after the long-standing event in Wellington lost its allure, leading to a change to Hamilton in 2018.

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In the heyday in the mid 2000s the Wellington leg of the World Sevens circuit rivalled Hong Kong for its popular costume party across the two day event, with the event selling out at rapid pace.

Hamilton hosted the event three times before pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of the 2021 and 2022 events.

Black Ferns Sevens have been drawn in Pool A with Fiji, Great Britain, Papua New Guinea while the All Blacks Sevens are in Pool B with Great Britain, Australia and Tonga for the event which begins this weekend.

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