If an event involves a rugby ball, then a team from New Zealand can usually be backed for victory.
However, the sevens competitions for men and women haven’t gone quite to plan at the Olympic Games, with Australia triumphing in the women’s tournament and the men – robbed of star man Sonny Bill Williams early on because of injury – already on their way home with the semi finals still to play.
Speaking to stuff.co.nz on Thursday, All Blacks coach Steven Hansen said he was “disappointed” for the players involved. He also believes the current rugby calendar did not help his country’s cause.
“Everyone will come back and we’ll review the process and learn some lessons as we always do,” he said. “It took us a while to win a World Cup.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t paper over things and we’ve got to look at it honestly and genuinely as a rugby playing group; the sevens, the All Blacks and the rugby union itself and see how we can do it better because it is an opportunity to showcase rugby for New Zealand.”
Williams was the main name – at least in terms of the XV game – to travel to Rio with the likes of in-form fly-half Beauden Barrett ruled out because of his involvement in the Super 18 competition with the Hurricanes.
“There’s a definite conflict and it’s been really difficult for the players,” the ABs coach insisted. “Some of them have chosen to go, and some to stay and that’s been a decision they’ve had to make themselves without the influence of either Titch or myself.
“If they had a clear calendar around the Olympics and there wasn’t any test rugby, I think you’d see a lot of more people want to go.
“We’d all like to have all our great players at the Olympics to win the gold medal but that’s not guaranteed either. We still want to win test matches and that’s not guaranteed.”
Anton Lienert-Brown, meanwhile, has gotten the nod to replace Williams in the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship squad, following confirmation on Wednesday that the talented back could be out of action for up to nine months with the achilles injury he picked up in Brazil.