The Black Ferns Sevens have credited outgoing coach Allan Bunting as the person most responsible for leading the side to Olympic glory, during a tearful farewell today.
Bunting is leaving his position as head coach, having held the role since the Rio Olympics in 2016. He had been an assistant with the side for four years prior to that.
In a press conference today, Black Ferns stars Tyla Nathan-Wong and Stacey Fluhler were overwhelmed with emotion as they discussed Bunting's impact on the team and leading a culture change that brought unprecedented success and an Olympic gold medal.
"I wasn't in Rio but these two [Nathan-Wong and Gayle Broughton] were and they can probably vouch the culture wasn’t what they wanted back then," Fluhler said.
"To come out of that five years later and connect together as a team, to bring the sisterhood closer together, it’s actually helped our results and success."
The Black Ferns Sevens have lost just five games since the Rio Olympics, giving them a 93 per cent success rate in the five years since.
"It just shows our culture is special and as long as we trust and love and respect one another outside of rugby then everything on the field will come together nicely," Fluhler said.
"We put a lot of time and effort into our culture, more so than rugby sometimes which is really cool because you wanna have fun, you wanna enjoy the journey along the way. That’s a big part of what we do so I think that’s really helped us win this gold medal."
Nathan-Wong was quick to credit Bunting for that culture change.
"Holy heck that man is incredible," Nathan-Wong said before breaking down in tears.
"He’s been with us since the beginning and when he took over he wanted to make that mark on our culture and really be a culture-led team that loved to turn up to every training. You loved turning up every morning and that’s because of him.
"He’s the big heart in our team and we’re going to miss him, we’re going to miss him a lot. He’s done so much for our team," an emotional Nathan-Wong said while trying to wipe away the tears.
"His family has sacrificed so much to allow him to be with us these last 10 years. Alexis and whanau, thank you so much for letting your husband and father be with us these last 10 years. If we were selfish we wouldn’t want to give him back to you."