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Kendra Cocksedge.

Taranaki-born Kendra Cocksedge is one of the most influential figures in the global game. After debuting for the Black Ferns at just 19-years-old, Cocksedge has gone on to win two Women’s Rugby World Cup titles (2010 and 2017) and was named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2015. She has also excelled in sevens and was part of the squad that won the inaugural Women’s Sevens World Series in 2013. 

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They’ve made the country proud – Cocksedge

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Kendra Cocksedge     24 Jul 2018     Getty Images

The Black Ferns Sevens and the All Blacks Sevens walked into one of America’s most famous sporting arenas and walked out as history makers.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens format is ruthless. There’s no round robin. No second chances. Lose a game and you are knocked out of contention for the world title. 

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The pressure is immense, but both our women’s and men’s national sides harnessed all that pressure to become the first teams in history to win back-to-back Rugby World Cup Sevens titles.

New Zealand, once again, holds all four Rugby World Cups alongside the men’s and women’s fifteens titles achieved in 2015 and 2017.

What makes New Zealand’s twin-effort even more special is that sevens is a sport that is constantly evolving and advancing. As Ruby Tui said after the Black Ferns Sevens beat France in the final, the game has changed immensely from the 2013 World Cup in Russia with teams improving rapidly around the world.

I believe one of the keys to the Black Ferns Sevens success is their sisterhood. They call themselves the ‘sevens sisters’ and it’s easy to see why. They have a welcoming, family environment which makes new players feel at home and encourages them to believe in their own abilities. Every player knows what their role is and they have complete faith and trust in each other. A strong off-field bond always flows onto the field, and you can see that with the Black Ferns Sevens.

You have Gayle Brougton coming on from the bench with that fancy footwork always making an impact. Michaela Blyde and Portia Woodman on the wings causing constant trouble. Ruby Tui is an absolute work horse that can always be counted on. Then you have Gossy (Sarah Goss) as the rock of the team.
They all know what they have to do and it clicks. The girls in the squad will only get stronger - but so will other teams too. The quality of sevens will continue to lift and the lure of Olympic medals will motivate many countries to develop the game. We have to keep lifting each tournament and hopefully by the time the 2020 Olympics rolls around we will be in peak condition.

Huge credit must go to Clark Laidlaw and the All Blacks Sevens. They had to dig really deep to win the men’s tournament in San Francisco.

Against France in the quarterfinal they trailed 7-0 at halftime and had three players yellow-carded but still found a way to win. They refused to give up against Fiji in the semifinal too. Trailing the tournament favourites at halftime, the All Black Sevens bagged a couple of quick tries then worked hard on defence to deny Fiji a way back into the game. England tested the All Black Sevens in the final but couldn’t deny the All Black Sevens from making history.

There’s something special about winning away from home and flying that New Zealand flag high with your brothers and sisters. I’ve been lucky enough to experience it with the Black Ferns in 2010 and 2017 and there’s nothing like it.

It was a magic weekend for New Zealand rugby. Congratulations to both the Black Ferns Sevens and All Black Sevens – you have done New Zealand proud.