NZ Sevens receive All Blacks honour
The New Zealand Rugby Union has announced the country's men's Sevens team and Maori side are to be officially referred to as the All Blacks Sevens and Maori All Blacks respectively.
The changes take effect from the start of the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series later this year for the men's Sevens team and for New Zealand Maori on their northern hemisphere tour this year.
"Both teams already wear a black jersey and the identical silver fern, this name change simply catches up with how many people already see these teams as being linked to the All Blacks," said NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew.
"Significantly, this name change will expand the commercial and partnership opportunities available to us, so providing much needed funds for all layers of the game in New Zealand.
"This change allows us to create more reasons for international companies to associate with the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby by convincing them that the brand has real global reach.
"The All Blacks Sevens and Maori All Blacks can do that by flying the All Blacks flag virtually around the world throughout the year. They are both wonderful ambassadors for our game.
"From Las Vegas to Dubai, the Sevens team plays in more places, more often than the All Blacks. The next season extends from October to May and will be longer in coming years as more tournaments are added. As well, the Olympics provides a fantastic new opportunity on the biggest sporting stage in the world.
Since Gordon Tietjens took charge of New Zealand's Sevens fortunes in 1994, 37 players have gone through his tough regime to be named 'All Blacks'. Tew has also made it clear that the change has been carefully considered and that it does not alter what it means to become an All Black.
"The definition of an All Black will not change. To be capped as an All Black you must take the field in a 15-a-side test match. Becoming an All Black will remain the pinnacle of rugby achievement and the dream of youngsters across the country who lace up their boots each weekend.
"But by taking these steps, we can better sustain the game we love, continue to produce winning All Blacks and ensure New Zealand rugby continues to be the powerhouse of world rugby."
Video archive : New Zealand Sevens win 2012 Wellington title