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Why New Zealand’s Shiray Kaka gave Hong Kong Sevens medal to young fan

By Finn Morton
Shiray Kaka of New Zealand runs with the ball during the 2023 Sydney Sevens match between New Zealand and Japan at Allianz Stadium on January 28, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

One of the most iconic moments from the 2015 Rugby World Cup final didn’t even happen during the match. After captain Richie McCaw lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in triumph, and with the All Blacks walking around the field, Sonny Bill Williams gifted his medal to a young fan.

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Williams’ generosity in handing over what every professional rugby player aspires to receive will echo throughout the history of the sport’s most prestigious event. It was an unexpected exchange that has undoubtedly inspired many to dream big.

But that’s just one example. There have been countless moments in the almost 10 years since, including at the historic Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday evening. New Zealand’s Shiray Kaka joked about “not” being “very humble” but that’s clearly not the case.

During the men’s final, which the All Blacks Sevens went on to win 10-7, Kaka offered to throw her Hong Kong Sevens medal up to a young fan who was standing above the northwest tunnel. If the young girl caught it, then it was hers to take home.

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The young Australian caught the medallion, which is now hers to keep. Still smiling, Kaka spoke with reporters seconds later, but with that moment with the young fan initially going unnoticed, the New Zealander didn’t bring it up.

But after hearing about the incredible moment, this reporter had to literally run over to Kaka to quickly ask the Olympic gold medallist about it. “How did you hear that,” the Black Ferns Sevens star ended up asking.

“She’s been cheering for me all weekend,” Kaka told RugbyPass and another reporter. “She does have an Australian jersey on though so it’s kind of a feel-sorry kind of thing as well,” she quipped.

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“She’s so cute. She’s like a full Australian fan and just loving rugby so I just want to make sure kids like that stay with rugby so that’s why I gave it to her.”

After losing in the final, semis and then the quarter-finals in the first three events of the season, the Black Ferns Sevens have turned their 2023/24 season around with a stunning series of Cup final wins.

New Zealand ended their silverware drought in Vancouver and backed that up a week later at Los Angeles’ Dignity Health Sports Park. But their most recent success at the Hong Kong Sevens was especially impressive after overcoming Australia in the semi-finals.

The Kiwis’ defensive effort put them in good stead during the first half of that knockout clash, before their attacking flair after the break helped them secure a spot in the big dance.

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Finn Morton spoke with New Zealand’s Shiray Kaka about why she gave her Hong Kong Sevens medal to a young fan.

After beating the United States of America in the final, and with Australia placing third, New Zealand have moved up to first on the overall SVNS Series standings on for-and-against. The women in black are equal on overall competition points (106) with the Aussies.

“Whenever Aussie are playing we’re always like ‘Oh someone beat them’ and whenever we’re playing I’m sure they do the same,” Kaka said.

“It’s just a bit of banter with us. No hard feelings.

“I’m not very humble. I know that I’m pretty cool and I’m pretty good and rugby so I knew my time was going to come,” Kaka joked after being named the Hong Kong Sevens’ best and fairest.

“I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to make Perth though, I didn’t expect that. There were a few tears. You know how people record themselves when they’re crying? I did that when I didn’t make the team and I laugh at it now.”

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