Sevens stars excited about the return of Hamilton

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Their enthusiasm for playing at home doesn't waver, despite the fact the Waikato duo are on the opposite ends of the experience scale when it comes to World Sevens Series Rugby.


Mikkelson has played a colossal 459 matches for the All Black Sevens since debuting in 2008, while Jazmin Hotham has played 14 matches for the Black Ferns Sevens.


“It's a pinnacle event for us. We do a lot of travelling so to have family and friends with us is special,” Mikkelson, New Zealand’s most capped sevens player said.


“It's a huge week. We get schools' training with us, there are promotions, and you build emotional connections with New Zealanders you can’t get overseas.”


“I'm super duper excited,” Hotham concurred. 


“I was a Year 13 student when it was announced a women’s leg would be held in New Zealand. Since then it’s been a big dream of mine to put on the black jersey in front of my family and friends.” 



The women’s World Series started in 2012, but the Black Ferns didn’t debut on home soil until a Fast Four tournament in 2019. The Black Ferns won that event, beating out France 31-0 in the final. Stacey Fluhler scored a hat-trick.


The following year, New Zealand finally became an official stop on the World Series and the Black Ferns didn’t disappoint their home fans, beating Canada 24-7 in the final. Michaela Blyde scored two tries and Fluhler was named player of the tournament. 


“It was such a fun experience. I had never watched women’s sport live before so that was really special," Hotham said. 


"Every game involves a different country so unless New Zealand are playing there are no allegiances, you are supporting the sport.


“The first year I went I was in pyjamas and then I was a zoo keeper. The big baby faces were memorable."


Mikkelson is more than accustomed to playing in front of large, colourful crowds. He agrees with Hotham, home ground advantage is unique.


“There was one year we played Fiji in the semis and we couldn’t even hear ourselves talk. It’s always fun to see Avatar or Smurfs in the crowd, anyone who shows real commitment.”


Both Kiwi teams' participation in the latest World Series has been hampered by Covid. The All Black Sevens have competed in two out of a possible eight tournaments, the Black Ferns Sevens' two from six. 


The All Black Sevens improved from ninth in Toulouse to second in London, while the Black Ferns Sevens beat Australia in the final in Toulouse, flipping their defeat to the same opponent in Langford.


With a Commonwealth Games and World Cup to be played before Hamilton 2023, Mikkelson and Hotham warn both Kiwi teams will be “fizzing” for the World Series return to New Zealand in January 2023.



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