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New Zealand go back-to-back with another historic double in Hong Kong

By Finn Morton
New Zealand claim the women's and men's double at the Hong Kong Sevens. Picture: World Rugby.

For the second time in as many years, New Zealand has claimed a famous double at the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens with both women’s and men’s teams winning their respective Cup finals on Sunday evening.

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After beating arch-rivals Australia in their semi-finals, both the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens stood on the cusp of greatness with this looking like the final time the world-famous Hong Kong Stadium will host the SVNS Series event.

The all-star quartet of Michaela Blyde, Risi Pouri-Lane, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe and Jorja Miller scored tries in New Zealand’s 28-14 win over Australia in their semi-final, and it was a similar story in the decider with big name players standing up.

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Olympic gold medallist Blyde, who played in her 50th international sevens tournament this weekend, scored a breathtaking hat-trick as the Kiwis ran up a cricket-esque score against the United States of America in the big dance.

Blyde, who is a two-time World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, was named the Player of the Final after a masterful display against a valiant USA Eagles outfit.

“To come back with back-to-back wins in Hong Kong is really special. We’re really proud of the way we performed today,” Blyde told RugbyPass and other reporters.

“We’re glad to have finished this Hong Kong Stadium with a win. Hopefully, we can bring some more wins next year in the new stadium.”

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After a slow start to the new-look SVNS Series campaign, the Black Ferns Sevens have won the last three events of the season and now sit in first place on the overall standings ahead of Australia.

New Zealand are equal on overall points (106) with their neighbours from across the ditch but after ahead on their for-and-against for the season.

“We obviously weren’t impressed or happy with how we performed at the start of the season. We had a lot of things that we needed to work on,” Blyde added.

“We just need to bring it back to basics. There are a lot of teams that are starting to develop their skillset very quickly so for us we just wanted to stay on top of the game by being the best versions of ourselves, doing the simple things right, width-to-width, good accuracy with our passes and to try and be fitter and faster than most teams.

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“As soon as you bring some speed and fitness into the game, you take control of momentum. If we can keep on top of that in our team, we can hopefully continue this constancy moving on into the Olympics.”

After the heroism of their countrywomen, the All Black Sevens were up next. New Zealand had also beaten Australia in the semis but had SVNS LAX champions France standing in their way.

Youngster Cody Vai scored the opening try of the final, and veteran Scott Curry added another later on, as the men in black ran away with both a clinical and historic win in Hong Kong China.

For Cody Vai, the rising star has already won the prestigious event twice after helping New Zealand take out the crown in 2023.

“I think it’s a bit more special. Some of the boys in this team right now have never won a Hong Kong. To win it with them is a better feeling because they’ve been in the team for a while and this was one of their goals and I’m happy to achieve it with them,” Vai told this website.

“It’s all in the team. They’re making it easier for me. They do their job, I do my job and its teamwork.”

After starting the weekend in sixth on the overall SVNS standings, New Zealand have moved up one place and are now just one overall point behind Hong Kong Sevens opponents France.

For a team that has missed the Cup quarter-finals twice this season, and has otherwise only made one other Cup final, this win in Hong Kong China is recognition of a team who is showing signs of improvement.

“It means a lot to us,” Vai added.

“Hong Kong is one of the ones that we want to turn around and (we’ll) probably go up from there until the Olympics.

“This is not it. This is part of the journey and the end journey is obviously the Olympics.”

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