WELLINGTON, NZ – With the IRB HSBC Sevens Series stopping here next, it’s time to address an issue that’s been nagging us for a while, and one that many aren’t aware of, or as in the case of NBC/Universal’s Bill Seward (who we like), weren’t aware of until just recently, when a certain individual (ahem) fired off emails informing Bill & Co of the breaking news that: New Zealand’s Sevens Players are not considered All Blacks. In fact, they don’t have a name. They are just New Zealand Sevens. Really.
Now, we understand there are bigger issues in the game that need our attention, but this is one that seems rather petty and will only become more magnified as the 2016 Olympic Games draw nearer. Why? Because someone like yours truly, with the massive amount of air-time allotted The Games, will either purposely or accidentally get into it. Here’s one scenario:
REPORTER: Ladies and Gentleman, we have the pleasure of being with the most successful coach in the history of Sevens, Mr. Gordon Tietjens. Coach, thanks for being with us.
TIETJENS: My pleasure.
REPORTER: It must be exciting for you and all of New Zealand to have the All Blacks favored to win their first-ever Olympic Gold Medal, specifically after having lost the Webb-Ellis to the Americans in the 2015 World Cup.
TIETJENS: Yes. The World Cup loss still stings but… we aren’t… we’re not… All Blacks.
REPORTER: Oh, really… [Wink] Then what is the team nickname, Coach?
TIETJENS: [Agitated] We don’t have a nickname.
REPORTER: Ha, ha… Good one, Coach.
TIETJENS: This interview is over.
The skinny on this is that 7s has never really been considered real rugby in New Zealand, and that the honor of being considered an All Black is reserved only for real rugby players, not 7s players. I certainly will not be the first to tell someone like Richard Loe that his view on this topic is a tad out-dated – and for the record we don’t know what Richard’s view on this is, we just know we don’t want to anger him in any way – but someone needs to bring this perception of 7s out of The Dark Ages, after all – the rest of the world thinks enough of this game to vote it into the Olympics.
Further, 7s has come a long way in the last decade. Players like DJ Forbes and Tim Mikkelson are warriors on the pitch that any nation, especially New Zeland, would be proud to call their own. And by calling them their own, we mean for Kiwis to call them… All Blacks.
Please leave your comments below and tune in tomorrow for the always-entertaining Mathew Drew Turner of England Sevens.