11th Series just reward for All Black Sevens

(IRB.COM) Thursday 16 May 2013
 
 11th Series just reward for All Black Sevens
Haka time: The All Black Sevens lifted both the London Marriott Sevens and HSBC Sevens World Series trophies

When Gordon Tietjens became New Zealand's Sevens coach in 1994, the youngest of his current squad Trinity Spooner-Neera wasn't even born yet.

Now, following Twickenham's final and record-breaking weekend of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Tietjens has an 11th Series title in 14 years of IRB Sevens rugby, and young Trinity returns home dizzily grasping his first.

"I've always said that you can win the World Series without winning a tournament, that it's about being consistent," said Tietjens, whose side won two Cup titles in the 2012/13 season, in South Africa and London. "We made every single semi-final this year, which is great, and as a side we see every game we play as a final, and that's been the key.

"It's been a great season for us in terms of consistency, but also in the sense that we've brought on so many young players. So to have been in six of the first eight finals to tie up the Series with an event go to was an excellent result for us."

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After winning the London final against Australia to cap a victorious season in style, Tietjens also spoke about the 'special culture' in the side - the trust and expectation that each of his players has for each other.

"They're very close. We had three days off in the week (leading up to London) because they worked so hard back in New Zealand, and that's when you do get rewards for all that hard work."

Now he will be hoping that the same work can pay off at the sixth Rugby World Cup Sevens, in Moscow on 28-30 June.

"It's a confidence boost heading into the World Cup for sure, but it's always one tournament at a time for us, one game at a time," added Tietjens, who has won one World Cup in Sevens, in Mar del Plata back in 2001. "That's going to be totally different and might be a totally different team, but these guys have put their hands up and told the coach they want to go to Moscow, so I've got a few problems ahead of me."

Tietjens on the HSBC Sevens World Series 2012/13

Round 1 - Gold Coast, Cup runners-up, lost to Fiji


"That first tournament's always a challenge, bringing in so many new, young players and out of that tournament we got Belgium Tuatagaloa, who well for us throughout the season, so a great challenge and a great result for us in some ways."

Round 2 - Dubai, Cup runners-up, lost to Samoa


"Kurt Baker returned to play for us in Dubai and he's a prolific try-scorer, but we lost to Samoa. Samoa seem to lift themselves every time we play them there. It's a great tournament for us to win because we get so much support but it wasn't to be. But again, it put us in a pretty good position in the standings. "

Round 3 - Port Elizabeth, Cup champions beat South Africa

"South Africa's a great place for us to play, I think we've won the last four tournaments there in a row. Great support for us, a great place to play rugby and also a good place to win just before we go back home for Christmas. We played the French in the final and Tim Mikkelson made a great try and was outstanding there, as he has been all season. Our performances throughout were tremendous."

Round 4 - Wellington, Cup semi finalists, lost to Kenya

"There's always pressure to win your own tournament with 35,000 people screaming for you and we started slowly on day one. We played well to beat Australia in the quarter final, but then we met our match against a very good Kenyan side in extra time in the semi. But we went on to beat Samoa for third place with a lot of new, young players."

Round 5 - Las Vegas, Cup runners-up, lost to South Africa

"The Vegas tournament is always a challenge because you're playing on a smaller pitch in terms of the width, and for us coaches it's a real challenge in terms of which players you select and utilise. We played well in the semi final (against Fiji) and went to final and lost to a very good South African side that played particularly well. A top result for us in terms of finishing runner-up, but that elusive win is what you're looking for."

Round 6 - Hong Kong, Cup semi-finalists, lost to Fiji

"Hong Kong's always the big tournament for us, for every team, and to be beaten by Fiji in the semi final was disappointing because over the years it's generally been Fiji and New Zealand in various finals. They seemed to lift themselves, as they always do in Hong Kong, and they played well."

Round 7 - Tokyo, Cup runners-up, lost to South Africa

"To get to the final was great, coming off the loss in Hong Kong, and there was an opportunity there but South Africa again lifted themselves and played particularly well. But again it's that consistency and for us to be there or thereabouts was brilliant."

Round 8 - Glasgow, Cup runners-up, lost to South Africa

"We started really well in pool play to beat England 31-5 and then convincingly topped the group, but we lost two key players to injury (Scott Curry and Ben Lam) and that came back to haunt us. But again South Africa played well to beat us. "

Round 9 - London, Cup Champions, beat Australia

"It was a great way to finish the Series in London. Beating Australia in the final was an awesome performance. I'm proud because we've done it with a lot of players out. A lot of youngsters have come up and put their hands up and that's pleasing. To finish the season in style with that try and all the youngsters on the field having a crack said it all."

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