Even playing field for All Blacks Sevens

By Raniera Harrison
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Rugby Sevens should have the same status nationwide as the All Blacks. That's the call from one of the most respected sevens legends in the country today. Sevens has encountered some tough times as they prepare for their maiden trip to the Olympic Games in August.

How many rugby sevens stars are turning their backs on the game?

Former All Black and NZ Sevens athlete, Dallas Seymour says it can only be put down to one thing, “It's a tough one because the All Blacks jersey is always going to be the epitome for any kid in rugby in New Zealand. Having said that - the Olympics is a pretty big gig as well.”

That's the biggest question facing the All Blacks Sevens today. With only 99 days remaining until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio, we are yet to see NZ Rugby honour the team with contractual obligations to play.

Seymour says, “It may require a sit down and rethink by the NZ Rugby Union and Titch and all the coaching staff across rugby to see how serious we are to put our best foot forward.”

The personnel problems at the All Blacks Sevens are so bad, Sonny Bill Williams even reached out to wrestler The Rock this week. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist says it's worrying.

“That's the issue that Titch has dealt with, and the Sevens team has dealt with for well over twenty years now, going from sevens moving to the All Blacks jersey.”

Involved in the system for 14 years, Seymour says he can't blame those choosing the All Black dream.

“The All Blacks jersey is the pinnacle. It's the pinnacle of New Zealand rugby, it's the pinnacle of international rugby - it's the pinnacle of international sport.”

Current squad member Ardie Savea recently announced that he was withdrawing from Sir Gordon Tietjens' team to concentrate on his ambitions with the Hurricanes and the All Blacks.

“The whakaaro I've always had in Sevens; if you get offered the move up the pathway to a Super Rugby team, which is another stepping stone to the black jersey then guys have to take those opportunities when they come.”

The national sevens coach could not be reached for comment today.

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