NZ Sevens bow out of Olympics after clinical display by Fijian favourites

The New Zealand men's Sevens team have finished a disappointing Olympic campaign with a heart-breaking 12-7 loss to Fiji this morning.

Wet conditions proved to be an issue for both teams as handling errors blew multiple chances with overlaps on attack.

New Zealand were in serious trouble early in the game after conceding the opening try and losing Rieko Ioane to the sin bin following a lift in the tackle, but solo brilliance from Gillies Kaka just before the half gave them a 7-5 lead.

The game continued to teeter on a knife's edge early in the second half but Fiji proved why they are favourites to secure their country's first ever Olympic medal with a composed display to shut out any chances for the Kiwi side to get back in the contest.

After scoring on the back of another penalty, Fiji made wide, lobbing passes to hold possession and deny New Zealand any ball - the three minute suffocation proving too much in the end.

New Zealand had one last chance to win the game, but after being penalised for holding on to the ball in the ruck with the hooter gone, the game was over.

Fiji will now meet Japan in the semi-finals tomorrow morning after the Asian minnow’s continued their fairytale run by upsetting France 12-7.

Great Britain beat Argentina 5-0 in the third quarter-final in an extra time thriller. They’ll play South Africa in the second semi-final after they powered past Australia by 22-5.



Eden Park's new Our Wāhine mural showcases iconic female athletes to celebrate women’s suffrage anniversary

Auckland sports stadium Eden Park has unveiled a new mural dedicated to iconic New Zealand sportswomen as part of celebrations of the 125th anniversary since Kiwi women gained the right to vote.

The mural, which spans multiple areas of the stadium, includes Yvette Williams (track and field), Suzie Bates (cricket), Farah Palmer, Fiao'o Fa'amausili (rugby), Ruia Morrison (tennis), Dame Valerie Adams (shot put) and Lisa Carrington (kayaking).

Eden Park commissioned Kiwi artist Kate Hursthouse for the artwork.

Hursthouse says 'Our Wāhine' was a special piece for her.

"It's great to have such an iconic venue in my local neighbourhood celebrate New Zealand sportswomen, acknowledge Suffrage 125 and additionally make these seven women a permanent feature of the stadium," she said.

Eden Park CEO Nick Sautner said inspiration for the mural came from last month's Black Ferns Test match against the Wallaroos.

"My great grandmother signed the scroll to get women the vote," he said.

"It's important to celebrate the women who are pushing limits and breaking boundaries in both the professional and sporting worlds. Most of those featured have long affiliations with our stadium."

Dame Valerie Adams and Yvette Williams feature among the seven chosen for the piece. Source: 1 NEWS


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Average Joe to Olympian: How NZR's new initiative paves a path for sevens triallists to Tokyo Games

New Zealand Rugby says the new initiative it has launched today could see some undiscovered Kiwi talent head to the Tokyo Olympics as part of the World Champion All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads.

The Ignite Sevens was announced today which will see New Zealanders under the age of 23 able to trial for spots in the two sides.

NZR head of high performance Mike Anthony says the programme was designed to "encourage talented athletes from all sporting codes, regardless of rugby experience, to come forward and have a go at sevens".

"Our national Sevens teams compete at the highest level on the world stage and we want to be sure we are casting the net as wide as possible and tapping into the huge reservoir of athletic talent that exists across New Zealand."

Coming from a touch and hockey background Grace Steinmetz admits she is still getting used to contact. Source: 1 NEWS

People registered their interest earlier this year before NZR's high performance sevens coaches and trainers selected 96 players (48 men and 48 women) who will assemble in Auckland from 21 November to 24 November for a training camp and tournament.

The selected athletes will have their strength, speed, skill and agility measured before three days of training to start the camp.

Then, on the final day, players will be divided into four teams to play against each other in the inaugural Ignite7 tournament with three men and women selected by scouts to attend national development camps next year.

"The selected six players will be training alongside the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens in the New Year," Anthony said.

"It’s a massive opportunity that will give these players access to the full benefits of NZR’s high performance system and it effectively opens the door for selection into our two national Sevens teams."

After that, the chosen six can become full-fledged Sevens players in time for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan much like how Black Ferns Sevens players Michaela Blyde and Portia Woodman did in 2016 after a similar programme.

High performance manager Tony Philp says the Ignite 7s could be a big break for untapped Kiwi talent. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: MLB pitcher makes insane behind-the-back catch on ball drilled back at him

A Major League Baseball pitcher has shown his teammates how it's done in the field after using some impressive reflexes to turn an unlikely double play.

New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz stunned commentators and players alike after he managed to catch a ball hit straight back at him behind his back before recovering and throwing to first for an innings-ending double play.

Matz allowed Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins on base with a walk in the fifth innings of today's game before Roman Quinn stepped up to the plate with one out.

Quinn laced a pitch back up the middle of the diamond for what looked like a safe hit until Matz managed to get his glove behind and fall to the ground to not only stop the ball, but make a catch.

Hoskins, who jumped on contact was left frozen and flat-footed by the play as Matz recovered and threw to first base from his knees to complete the third out and earn applause from the Philadelphia crowd.

Unfortunately for Matz, the effort was in vain as the Mets went down to the Phillies 5-2 thanks to a five-run innings later in the game when he was relieved from the mound.

Mets hurler Steven Matz helped himself out of a sticky situation with this bit of magic. Source: SKY


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'It's a great opportunity' - Canterbury law student dabbles in new NZ Rugby initiative, Ignite Sevens

Canterbury sevens player Grace Steinmetz only played the game last year in December and is now having a crack at making the national women’s team.

New Zealand Rugby has started a new initiative Ignite 7 which sees 48 female and 48 male athletes take part in a four day event on November 21.

Players will go through a field of testing before playing in a televised one day tournament to earmark new talent.

"Hadn't played rugby or sevens before, so come from a touch and hockey background," said Steinmetz.

The 20-year-old law student hopes to one day wear the Black Ferns women jumper as she tries out her hand in the Ignite 7 tournament.

"It is something I would love to do one day, I think it's a great opportunity for sevens now girls, it's professional and it can be your job now," she said.

"I don't have to worry about my law degree, like I can just go and train and be a professional athlete which is definitely a goal of mine."

Coming from a touch and hockey background Grace Steinmetz admits she is still getting used to contact. Source: 1 NEWS


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