Kiwis sidestep their way to Las Vegas

One of the new stars of the New Zealand sevens side. Rieko Ioane. Photo: IRB

One of the new stars of the New Zealand sevens side. Rieko Ioane. Photo: IRB

TV commentator Keith Quinn gives his thoughts on the Sevens Wellington as he travels to round five of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas.

Following New Zealand’s victory over England at the Sevens Wellington, we caught up with TV commentator Keith Quinn who watched on at the Westpac Stadium. Quinn witnessed Gordon Tietjens’ side win 27-21 in the final and record their first Cup title of the season, and will travel with the teams to round five of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas, where Olympic qualification continues.

It was a great win for New Zealand, they came out in the final and played fast and furious against a brave England without Tim Mikkelson and the highly prized captain DJ Forbes. Without these two guys you could have said they were a lesser power but they won it emphatically.

I am also going to invent a new word for what I saw in Wellington – ‘sidesteppiest’. It was the sidesteppiest New Zealand team that has ever been fielded.
We knew about Joe Webber and Gillies Kaka, but now Beaudine Waaka, Dylan Collier and the 17-year-old hero Rieko Ioane.

Before the tournament when I saw Gordon Tietjens announce that Tim Mikkelson wasn’t playing I think I saw his bottom lip quiver. He was devastated that this had happened so late in the preparation, and I felt that he felt that it would be a big setback. But he brought these new stars in, and they sidestepped their way to victory. It is a beautiful art form in rugby, and here he had four or five of them in his side at one time which I believe was the difference in some of the victories they had.

Elsewhere we saw South Africa showing some signs of inconsistency. They still lead the table which is good for them, but they lost twice here. The French played so well to get the result in the first match of the tournament, before they came unstuck against New Zealand.

I also thought some other teams were inconsistent. England did well to get to the final, but maybe let themselves down a bit there and other teams like Canada and Samoa are having tough times. We look to those teams with Las Vegas coming up to see if they can pull it all together, because there is an awful lot to play for, not just week by week, but the totals that build. If they don’t get into the top four there is a lot to play for in the other qualification tournaments all designed to be in the top 12 at the Olympic Games next year and these tournaments will pave the way.

The USA were a fantastic team to watch also. They have Carlin Isles and Perry Baker, two of the most spectacular players to come on the scene. Isles was with us last year and was a wonderful catch for the series but in Baker now they have two. As a result, those guys were able to score tries that no one else in the tournament really could by sheer outright speed and increasing rugby nous and skill.

This augurs well for USA rugby and certainly for the Las Vegas Sevens. We have seen that grow in recent times, 70,000 there last year, and with a heightened interest in their performance and two shining stars, speed, it is going to be great in Las Vegas.

Scotland too impressed, not only here in Wellington by reaching their first Cup semi final outside of the UK, but continuity for them because they have had some good quarter final appearances this season. I like the way they play, they play with vigour and commitment. To make that third place play-off and to give so much in that game I was very proud of them.

Overall this was a terrific tournament for New Zealand, the team, the fans and the organisers. It might not have brought the big crowds of the past, but I think it will have done a lot for the tournament. The quality of the rugby, and the feeling of the fans towards the game was wonderful to see. Of course it helped that New Zealand won, but this was a very nice return for the Sevens Wellington.

Gordon Tietjens has said time and time again and it is not often heard, but there are six or seven teams that can beat each other on any day and that is reflected in the play. We’ve had three different teams win Cups this season, but the possibilities are endless as we head to the half way point in Las Vegas.

  • World Rugby


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Filed under All Blacks, HSBC Sevens World Series, New Zealand, Sevens

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