What is going on with the Kiwi rugby sides?
The Hamilton Sevens left New Zealand in fourth.
The low finish was bad enough, but the final indignity was losing the bronze medal match to the Aussies in a match that produced a head scratching 8 – 7 score.
The people came out in droves to watch some truly good football.
Fiji was the eventual winner, which is not completely unexpected, given the Fijian dedication to the Sevens code, beating South Africa 24 – 17 in the final.
New Zealand appeared well positioned, taking a second-half lead over Fiji, but when the clock expired, the tally was Fiji 14 – New Zealand 12.
This was the first time the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series was held outside of Wellington, but that cannot account for much, as supporters at FMG Stadium Waikato were boisterous in the extreme in support of the home side.
Fiji was nearly eliminated in a quarterfinal against Samoa, but came back to win that game and ultimately avenge last year’s defeat to the South African.
Understandably dejected, New Zealand Coach Clark Laidlaw offered comments, saying, “It was a hell of a game and typical of New Zealand v Fiji. There were tight margins across the weekend and unfortunately we were on the wrong side in that last game,” he said.”But we have got stronger. It’s our fourth tournament together with a new coaching group and we’re playing against teams that have had coaches for three to five years.We’re realistic around where we’re at and we’re developing, but just frustrated to lose.”
Clark took over as New Zealand sevens coach a bit under a year ago.
For much of the series, New Zealand supplied dramatic rugby, waiting until near the last moment to come back to win their quarterfinal against England, but that inability to finish the Fijians in the semifinal proved their undoing.
As for the loss in the bronze medal match to the Aussies, well, indignity knows no limit and the chatter about an Aussie rugby renaissance can begin anew.