In front of a capacity crowd the All Blacks Sevens lost a thrilling final 24-14 to Fiji, but the result was quickly forgotten in the excitement of what has become one of New Zealand’s most thrilling and colourful sporting events over its 20-year history.
As the years have passed memories of that original HSBC New Zealand Sevens party and the squad who represented the home side have faded, but a quick walk down memory lane quickly reveals how special that weekend was.
The team included some of New Zealand rugby's most famous names including a young the late-great Jonah Lomu, the incredible Christian Cullen, 100-cap All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina and Kiwi sevens legend Eric Rush.
It also included a dread-locked youngster Karl Te Nana, now a Sky TV and regular HSBC World Sevens Series commentator.
Te Nana admits his on-field recollection of the original HSBC New Zealand Sevens tournament in 2000 is a bit “hazy”, but he shared one special memory ahead of the tournament’s 21st birthday celebrations in Hamilton on January 25-26.
“One memory I do have is the day of the tournament, we were in the team room and one of the biggest discussions was the runout song for us. Craig DeGoldi wanted a death metal song, Eric Rush wanted The High Marks [a popular Maori family band in the 1970s], but then I'd been at a [cricket] one-dayer the week before and one of the Black caps walked out to ACDC’s Back in Black. And we all agreed that was that.”
The All Blacks Sevens squad that played the original HSBC New Zealand Sevens tournament in Wellington on 4-5 February, 2000 was:
A steady hand in a team of stars, Monaghan ran great lines and had speed to burn.
One of New Zealand’s sevens greats and always a crowd favourite. Rushy’s battles with Fiji legend Waisale Serevi were always a highlight.
Craig De Goldi
A work horse in the tight and a physical presence on attack and defence.
Finisher extraordinaire, Ralph was always on hand to finish a line break due to his incredible fitness.
Incredible footwork and one of the original sevens play makers. Small in size, big in influence.
Karl Te Nana
A feisty youngster at the turn of the century and a try-scoring machine, Te Nana would be a mainstay of the sevens scene for years to come and is now a world renowned commentator on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and television identity for Sky TV in New Zealand.
The one and only Jonah Lomu was a colossus in sevens. Incredible power and pace was on full display in Wellington 21 years ago. RIP Jonah.
Knocked out in a tackle early in the tournament, but went on to become one of the true greats of sevens and fifteens.
A fresh faced youngster in 2000, Muliaina started the tournament on the bench, but finished in the starting line-up and would go on to great things in sevens and fifteens.
Debuted for the All Blacks Sevens at 17, and was still just 19 in 2000. Won three Commonwealth Games Gold medals for New Zealand and will be remembered as one of the best playmakers to wear the black jersey.
Coach: Gordan Tietjens
The old master’s record speaks for itself. Twelve World Series crowns, two Sevens World Cups, and four Commonwealth Games Gold medals.