New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has today confirmed that Allan Bunting, who returns to the squad after a period of leave this year, links up with caretaker Coach Cory Sweeney, as the pair will co-coach the Black Ferns Sevens through to the Olympics. The new season gets under way in next weekend with the opening round of the HSBC World Series in Glendale, USA.
The World Rugby World Sevens Series has grown from six to eight tournaments for the 2019/2020 season, meaning a busy build-up for the Black Ferns Sevens heading into the Tokyo Olympics in July.
NZR High Performance Sevens Manager Tony Philp said the aim is to get the best out of the players in the sevens programme.
“It’s great to have Allan back in the programme and we believe this structure will play to strengths of the coaching team. With such a big season ahead, and we know Allan, Cory and Stu (Ross), along with the wider management team will continue to develop and lead this group to achieve their goals.”
Philp said the new structure will bring out the best in the coaching team, with the ability to maximise their coaching knowledge, skills and leadership in what will be a busy season.
Sweeney was previously assistant coach and has been part of the coaching group for three seasons. Stu Ross rounds out the coaching team, continuing as assistant coach.
Allan Bunting said the team has had a positive preseason and that everyone is eager to get back out on the field.
“The players had a good offseason break and returned really energised for the season. There is a sense of anticipation and excitement about what lies ahead, and I know that as coaches we are looking forward to what this group can achieve,” said Bunting.
The Black Ferns Sevens have 23 fully contracted players based in Tauranga that train full time. The management team consists of the three coaches along with full time physio, strength and conditioning coach, manager and support staff that oversee nutrition, sports psychology and professional development.
Senior players Ruby Tui, Tyla Nathan-Wong and Captain Sarah Hirini are all nominated for World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, the awards will be held in November.
Hirini’s nomination continues what has been a big year for the Captain, after becoming the first female player to bring up 200 World Sevens Series matches and receiving a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby.
The team to travel to Colorado, USA, for the opening tournament of the season will be named on Thursday.
2019/2020 Black Ferns schedule
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 5-6 October, Glendale
Oceania Sevens, 10-11 November, Fiji
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 5-7 December, Dubai
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 13-15 December, Cape Town
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 25-26 January, Hamilton
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 1-2 February, Sydney
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 3-5 April, Hong Kong
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 2-3 May, Langford
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 30-31 May, Paris
2020 Tokyo Olympics, 30 July – 1 August, Tokyo