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Kitakyushu Sevens Preview

World Rugby

allblacks.com     21 Apr 2017     World Rugby

RUSSIAN THREAT
While France and Japan will pose issues for the Black Ferns Sevens in Pool A, their biggest challenge will most likely come from Russia. Russia have been one of the big improvers on the sevens circuit in the past couple of years and showed their class with a Bronze medal finish in Dubai. The Russians will bring a physical game plan and look to dominate the contact zone. If The Black Ferns Sevens can gain parity in the tight exchanges, they should have enough fire power out wide to overcome Russia.

QUICK TAP: MEET THE TEAM BEHIND THE BLACK FERNS SEVENS

JAPANESE WELCOME
Rugby’s popularity in Japan is growing rapidly and this tournament is another step in that progression. With the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the appearance of Sevens at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, rugby is on an upward curve in Japan and the Black Ferns Sevens will experience it first-hand. The team kick off their Kitakyushu campaign early on day one against Japan and cannot afford any complacency against a team that will be desperate to make a splash in front of their home fans.

LEARNING FOR LYRIC

Seventeen-year-old St Mary’s College Wellington student Lyric Faleafaga joins the team for the first time and will experience the environment in the travelling reserve role says coach Alan Bunting. “This is about Lyric’s development plan, she’s young, has special talent and at 1.8 meters tall has real height. We’re really excited about her future so it’s all about giving her experience in the international tournament environment and personal growth for her.”



STATCHAT
Michaela Blyde leads the sevens series try scoring ladder on 24 tries. Russia’s Elena Zdrokova is second on 17 tries and Portia Woodman third on 16 tries.

CAN-AM CLASH

One of the matches to watch out for on day one is the Canada-USA clash in Pool C. The rivalry between the two sides has increased in recent years as USA have gained more consistency. And there will be more than just North American pride on the line. With England also in the pool, a loss in this clash could spell the end of any Kitakyushu title hopes for the North American rivals.

TEAM:

Sarah Goss (Captain), Michaela Blyde, Kelly Brazier, Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Alena Saili, Ruby Tui, Kat Whata-Simpkins, Niall Williams, Portia Woodman

Travelling reserves: Lyric Faleafaga, Tenika Willison

SCHEDULE:

Saturday 22nd April 2017
3.20pm NZT v Japan
6.05pm NZT v France
8.48pm NZT v Russia

Sunday 23rd April 2017
Finals

WATCH

Day 1: Saturday 22 April 1:25pm–9:10pm on SKY Sport Pop-up 3 (CH57)
Day 2: Sunday 23 April 1:25pm–8:30pm on SKY Sport Pop-up 3 (CH57)