New Zealand played Wales in the quarter-finals and won 38-14 before defeating Samoa in a tough semi-final, 19-14.
In the first ever Commonwealth Games Sevens Final, New Zealand played Fiji. Dallas Seymour opened the scoring, and a Christian Cullen try before half time had New Zealand leading at the break. Fiji scored to close the gap to just two points before Caleb Ralph toed the ball over the try line and dived on it for the try. New Zealand claimed Gold with a 21-12 win, which was the first New Zealand Gold of the games.
The 1998 New Zealand sevens team that won Gold at the Commonwealth Games was made up of rugby legends. We take a look back at their careers (All Blacks Sevens cap numbers listed)
Amasio Valence #97
A sevens specialist, Amasio Valence was born in Fiji and first played for the All Blacks Sevens at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He went on to play 47 tournaments on the World Series, winning six titles and two further Commonwealth Games Gold medals. Valence scored 1124 points on the World Series, sitting just outside the top 20 all-time point scorers.
Bruce Reihana #98
Bruce Reihana was a member of the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games winning teams, and outside of sevens had a successful career in 15s. Reihana played provincially for Waikato, and for the Chiefs in Super Rugby. He had 11 matches for the Maori All Blacks and three appearances for the All Blacks. Reihana signed for the Northampton Saints after the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 and went on to play more than 200 matches for the side. He finished his playing career in France and now coaches in England.
Caleb Ralph #73
Caleb Ralph debuted for the All Blacks Sevens while still attending Western Heights High School in Rotorua. It was the start of an illustrious career, with Ralph playing for Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Canterbury and Tasman in provincial rugby and the Chiefs, Blues and Crusaders in Super Rugby. On his way to winning five Super Rugby titles, Ralph scored 58 tries – the third most by any player in the competition’s history and he still holds the record for most consecutive matches, with 104 straight appearances. Ralph finished his career in Australia.
Christian Cullen #70
Known as one of the greats, Cullen was another star that donned the black jersey at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. His sevens exploits began in Hong Kong in 1996, where he scored seven tries in one match. That same year he played in the first ever Super Rugby match for the Hurricanes and made his All Blacks debut. Cullen played 85 matches for the Hurricanes and made 60 appearances for the All Blacks between 1996 and 2002. Cullen finished his career in Ireland and can be regularly heard commenting rugby for Sky.
Dallas Seymour #41
Dallas Seymour’s career in the black jersey spanned a remarkable 14 years after first debuting in 1988. The stalwart played in more than 30 tournaments, in a time before the World Series was formalised by World Rugby. Seymour played three matches for the All Blacks in 1992 and was also a member of the Maori All Blacks.
Eric Rush #40
Another Sevens legend, Eric Rush debuted alongside Seymour in 1988 and played in the side through to 2004. Rush won two Commonwealth golds, in 1998 and 2002, and a Rugby World Cup Sevens title in 2001. He played more than 60 tournaments for the All Blacks Sevens, 25 of those on the World Series which started in 1999. He was a member of the squad that won five World Series titles. Rush played for the All Blacks, amassing nine caps between 1992-1996.
Joeli Vidiri #69
Joeli Vidiri was probably most well-known for his exploits for the Blues in the formative days of Super Rugby, but he made his first appearance for the All Blacks Sevens at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Vidiri had previously played sevens for Fiji, before moving to New Zealand where he played six seasons of Super Rugby and played more than 70 matches for Counties Manukau. Vidiri’s career was cut short due to health reasons.
Jonah Lomu #63
The GOAT. Lomu burst onto the international rugby scene at the 1994 Hong Kong Sevens and went on to become the youngest ever All Black later that same year. Lomu had so many career highlights, Super Rugby titles with the Blues, 73 matches for the All Blacks which included his incredible performance at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Lomu continued to play sevens throughout his career, his last tournament was in London in 2001. Lomu tragically passed away in 2015 from a heart attack.
Rico Gear #93
Rico Gear had only just started his rugby career, playing for Poverty Bay the year before being selected in the All Blacks Sevens for the Commonwealth Games. Gear played more than 70 provincial matches for seven Unions and 79 matches of Super Rugby for the Blues, Highlanders and Crusaders. He made his All Blacks debut in 2004 and amassed 20 matches over three seasons. Gear finished his professional career playing in Japan.
Roger Randle #67
Roger Randle first played for the All Blacks Sevens in 1995, one season after first running out for Hawke’s Bay in provincial rugby. Randle made his name in Waikato and played Super Rugby for the Hurricanes and Chiefs. He played two matches for the All Blacks and was a regular member of the Maori All Blacks. Randle was also a part of the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens winning side. Post-playing, Randle has made a name for himself as a successful coach, currently with Waikato and the Chiefs, and as Maori All Blacks assistant coach.