All Blacks have a point to prove at Dubai Rugby Sevens
New Zealand had finished third in the Series and were knocked out in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics
By their lofty standards and the benchmark that they set, last season was a bit of a let-down the New Zealand Rugby Sevens team.
The All Blacks Sevens take a lot of pride in their rugby but they were somehow missing their mojo as they finished third behind Fiji and the United States in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
But with the new season about to kick-off with the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, which celebrates a landmark 50th year, the All Blacks insist they are in battle mode and it is all systems go.
New Zealand, six-time winners of the Dubai Sevens, voted the favourite sporting event 17 years in a row, and one of three sporting events given a five-star rating by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), have more than just a point to prove over the 10-leg series.
More so, with the Olympics just six months away. What happened at the 2016 Olympics in Rio haunted the New Zealanders and after the hurt came the introspection. The All Blacks have now dusted themselves off and are ready to have another crack at it.
"Firstly, I want to acknowledge the tournament itself in Dubai and 50 years is absolutely outstanding and going from sand to what we have got today is unbelievable," Tony Philp, the New Zealand's High Performance Sevens manager, said on Wednesday.
"For us, we are really excited about this year. There is a little positive vibe to start our World Series off with in Dubai. We love coming here and we know it is the start of what is a big year for us. Of course, we know the Olympics is on at the end of the year and we are really looking forward to the opportunity. Rio taught us a lot, taught me a lot, our management and our players, a lot. And certainly, we have building over the last four years to ensure we are in the best shape for the Games, as possible. The Olympics is a tough world and for us, we know that. Anyone on their day can win the tournament. So, we have to be at our best to make sure we achieve the goal that we are after," he added.
The All Blacks had lost to eventual winners Fiji in the quarterfinals in Rio, when the Sevens debuted at the Olympics.
New Zealand take on Wales in their Pool C opener at The Sevens Stadium on Thursday.
Pool A: Fiji, France, Argentina, Japan
Pool B: USA, Australia, Scotland, Ireland
Pool C: New Zealand, Samoa, Canada, Wales
Poolc D: South Africa, England, Spain, Kenya
Black Ferns Sevens in it to win it
DUBAI - They may have started slowly, but the New Zealand women's Rugby Sevens team are in it to win it, vowed assistant coach Corey Sweeney.
The Black Ferns Sevens finished third in the opening instalment of the eight-round HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at Glendale in the United States in October.
But the defending champions of the Series are eager and hungry to get going in the second round - the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, that begins at The Sevens Stadium on Thursday.
The four-time champions in Dubai and five-time winners of the Series, take on Japan in their Pool C opener.
"We have been successful here in Dubai," Sweeney said on Wednesday.
"As always, there is pressure when coming back to win a tournament that you love. We know that every time that the players don the black jersey that we are in it to win it. And we know if we are to do it, I think it is important that we go through the detail and the process rather than keep thinking what the outcome will be. I know that if we do that right, the outcome will take care of itself. We also know that it is a long season but we are really excited about this," he added.
The Black Ferns Sevens had won the silver at the Rio Olympics after losing to trans-Tasman rivals Australia.
Pool A: USA, Canada, Russia, Brazil
Pool B: Australia, Spain, Ireland, Fiji
Pool C: New Zealand, France, England, Japan
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