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Rugby sevens getting stronger – Tietjens

New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens says the game has changed for good and fans should get used to upset results like his side’s defeat to Kenya.

 
 

Kenya sevens

NEW ZEALAND sevens coach Gordon Tietjens says the game has changed for good and fans should get used to upset results like his side’s defeat to Kenya.

The home side were dumped out their home tournament in Wellington at the weekend by the Africans in the semifinals, having also lost to England, the eventual champions, in the group stage.

While New Zealand still leads the tournament ladder, the veteran coach said people’s perception of the game needs to change.

There was no such this as a sure thing, even in the group stage, he said.

“You look at some of the teams that have battled over the weekend and you look at Fiji, the country that probably has more players in the world in sevens rugby than anyone,” he told Fairfax NZ.

“To go into the bowl for the first time ever, that was a shock to everyone.

“We are fortunate we haven’t been in that situation yet. Touch wood it doesn’t happen, but you can be pretty close. You look at our last game last night [Friday night] against the USA, it could have easily been another close loss like we had tonight [Saturday].”

With sevens in now in the Olympics, more and more nations are looking to develop the game.

New Zealand struggled at the weekend, with minnows such as the USA and Spain proving a challenge in the breakdown.

There have been fewer hidings in this year’s series, with Fiji losing all three of their pool matches to Australia, Scotland and Canada in Wellington, while Kenya also prevailed over South Africa.

Portugal have reached the Cup quarterfinals twice and the US once, adding to the changing game.

New Zealand head into the next leg of the series in Las Vegas without key players Kurt Baker and DJ Forbes, both of whom are injured.

They are grouped with Argentina, France and Wales.

New Zealand lead the standings on 77 points, ahead of Kenya (56), Samoa (54) and Fiji, France and South Africa (51).

 
 

 
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