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Champions of ?the rugby world

Opinion Piece

Rugby really was the winner at the weekend with the men’s and women’s sevens teams producing a double victory for the ages as both made history — as did Waikohu here in Gisborne.

The performance of the All Black Sevens and the Black Ferns in their World Cup finals in San Francisco was sublime. The day after the women swamped France 19-0 in their final, the men dealt to England 33-12 in theirs.

It was a record third title for the men, while the Black Ferns were also defending the title they won in Moscow in 2013.

The double victories also mean both the New Zealand men’s and women’s rugby teams are world champions in both forms of the game — a first for any nation.

More than that, however, the Black Ferns play is like a dream for the game’s purists. They run the ball fearlessly, defend like tigers, and have the combined team spirit and culture that all champions need. The decision of the New Zealand Rugby Union to make the Ferns professional has been more than justified.

The sevens game has appeal beyond diehard rugby lovers, it is by its nature more free-flowing than 15 a side and is over in a short time.

That’s not to say that the 15-a-side game cannot thrill, as anybody who was at Rugby Park for the Lee Bros Shield final on Saturday would tell you.

Waikohu made history with their 40-26 win over YMP in a clash between two teams with a strong country tradition. It was made even sweeter for them by the fact that they were losing finalists last year.

Older residents would remember when Waikohu had its own sub union. It was great to see the glory days returning for the men from Te Karaka.

There is plenty still to look forward to for rugby fans, with the Crusaders v Hurricanes Super Rugby semi-final on Saturday. The Crusaders have won the last 19 in a row at home. Their last loss was actually to the Hurricanes, a mere 742 days ago.

Then there is the Rugby Championship with Australia, South Africa and Argentina, and the Bledisloe Cup to come. Rugby heaven is not over yet.