This year's Hamilton Sevens is all about the Black Ferns and it’s about time

9:30 pm on 26 January 2019

It's January, the temperature is expected to be in the high 20's, and the world's best cricket side are currently touring New Zealand. Which means, of course, it's an excellent time for rugby to start.

Hamilton Sevens 2018

This year will be the second time that Hamilton has hosted the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018

Opinion - To be fair, it's the abbreviated version of the game. This weekend sees the return of the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series to Hamilton, where it's being held for its second year. While last year's rebirth of the tournament was a fairly decent success, this year is when we'll find out whether it actually has any sustainability.

Credit where credit is due. The tournament will be the first time that the all-powerful Black Ferns Sevens team will play on New Zealand soil, although it isn't an official part of the women's series - rather a 'Fast Four' tournament involving England, France and Canada.

The side has been essentially untouchable for the past few years, winning both the World Series and World Cup. They contain the biggest names in the women's game right now, so having them in the tournament is a legitimate drawcard and serious boost for the visibility of a team was responsible for one of the main rugby highlights of last season.

The team trained at the Fraser Tech club's home ground next to Waikato Stadium on Friday. Captain Sarah Hirini (nee Goss) told us that the tournament has been a long time coming.

"Yeah I suppose it has. Obviously we've had to do a lot to make this happen but we're just really grateful it is happening and we get to play alongside our male counterparts.

"We're leading in the women's game at the moment. We've got a fully professional Sevens programme and a semi-professional XV's programme, we're really proud of that. It just provides more opportunities for young girls coming through."

Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Goss

Black Ferns captain Sarah Hirini. Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga / Photosport Ltd 2018

That fact isn't lost on teammate Terina Te Tamaki. It wasn't long ago that the 21-year-old was herself one of those young girls looking up to Hirini and the rest of the Black Ferns players.

"From high school, seeing these girls coming through was always my inspiration. That's what we want to do, we want to inspire the next generation because they now have the opportunity to be a professional sports player in New Zealand. That can be their job, so it's exciting."

Both Hirini and Te Tamaki were happy to point out that there would be plenty of family and friends out to support them this weekend, but it doesn't hide the fact that the tournament hasn't actually sold out. It's a far cry from the days of when the Wellington Sevens would sell out in a matter of minutes.

The real question now is how many people who came last year are willing to come again?

Because that's what the Hamilton tournament will live and die on. There are plenty of other things to do this weekend, it is the middle of summer after all, so the Sevens is relying on and competing against the good weather that is forecast for the weekend.

As well as the double up with the One Love music festival, which is being held over in Tauranga, unfortunate for the fact that the heavily Māori Black Ferns Sevens team would be after a great deal of that audience.

After all, as Te Tamaki says, they want to go out and 'express themselves'.

"We always know there are going to be teams that are right up behind us. That just gets us more excited to do better. Being here at home is going to push something out of us that I don't think anyone's witnessed yet."

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