Michaela Blyde to bring up special milestone in Hong Kong

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Blyde was imperious in the last leg of SVNS in March. She scored a dozen tries in six matches in Los Angeles, including three in the 29-14 win over series leaders Australia in the Cup final.

Combined, the New Zealand Wild Ducks, Aotearoa Māori, and Black Ferns Sevens are 63-0 at the Hong Kong Sevens. Those teams have won the Cup tournament 11 times, and the Black Ferns Sevens are treating Hong Kong like the Olympics.

“We’re at a point of our season where we want to start peaking. It’s important to have those marks in a long season where you look to shift up another gear but stay present.

“We have girls who haven’t been in an Olympic cycle before. Some of us have had three.

“The build-up is as important as the outcome. Mentally there are going to be some challenges. We want to perform at our best.”

The Olympics are in late July and following victories in Los Angeles and Vancouver the Black Ferns are trending upwards. That wasn’t the case at the start of the SVNS season where New Zealand lost a 41-game winning streak and didn’t win tournaments in Dubai, Cape Town, and Perth.  

“We’ve had to work hard at our combinations, having honest conversations about ourselves and each other,” Blyde admitted.

“Our skill sets and fitness under pressure have been areas we’ve focused on. We’ve got a few girls who haven’t consistently played World Series tournaments, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the experienced players must lift our youth so our youth can be confident when we are down or feel worthy of their place.

“Whoever is out there must be willing to put their hand up. Our squad is small, but we are the best 20 best players in the country. That’s a great place to regardless of your place or position in the Olympic squad your worth is so important.

Blyde praised developing countries Spain, Brazil, and South Africa for their improvements this season. In Hong Kong, New Zealand faces Olympic silver medallists France in pool play.

Referees are also under the microscope. There has been a proliferation of cards in SVNS as harsher penalties are issued for high tackles in a greater desire for safety. Focus on tackle height, technique, and “keeping the ref out of the game so we can control the momentum” are all areas of focus and improvement for the Black Ferns.

Blyde debuted for the Black Ferns Sevens in October 2013 at the Oceania Women's Sevens Championship in Noosa, Australia. She was 17 years old. More than a decade later Blyde has won six World Sevens Series titles and gold medals at the Olympics (2020 held in 2021), World Cup (2018), and Commonwealth Games (2018). In 2017 and 2018 Blyde was anointed World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year. She has scored 228 tries in 201 SVNS matches, second on the all-time standings behind teammate Portia Woodman-Wickliffe who has scored 247 tries in 224 matches.

Blyde holds the record for the most tries by a Black Ferns Sevens player in a single match (six against Sri Lanka at the 2022 Commonwealth Games) and she scored a record five tries in a single fixture against England in Langford in 2017.

“I’m very proud to represent New Zealand. To do it 50 times is an honour. There are so many moments which make me smile from ear to ear but winning the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo would be the highlight.” Blyde said.


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