Final squads announced for women's HSBC USA Sevens
The 12 final squads have been announced for the inaugural HSBC USA women's event in Las Vegas. The Tournament is the third out of the six World Series tournaments in 2016/2017.
CLICK HERE for squads and tournament information and Series standings
Uncharted territory for Australia and New Zealand
The two nations are no stranger to facing each other on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series but in Las Vegas they will break new ground with a first-ever meeting in the pool stages.
Australia and New Zealand have won 17 of the 22 rounds since the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series began in the Dubai desert in December 2012, but they will both step into uncharted territory at the HSBC USA Sevens on Friday.
This is because despite facing each other 14 times – with seven wins apiece – Australia and New Zealand have never come face-to-face in the pool stages of a series tournament before, their earliest previous meeting being a Cup quarter-final in Dubai in 2015.
They first met in the inaugural tournament in Dubai with New Zealand winning their semi-final showdown 28-14 en route to being crowned champions. Their most recent meeting again went the Black Ferns Sevens’ way with a 19-0 triumph in the bronze medal match in Sydney last month – the first time they have kept Australia scoreless.
As the table below shows, the victories have gone in cycles. Australia were the dominant force in the 2015-16 series with five victories – including at the Olympic Games in Rio – but New Zealand have had the upper hand in 2016-17 with two victories.
This means that Australia have scored 223 points and New Zealand 247 in their 14 meetings on the series and they are the only nations to have scored more than 3,000 points (3,015 and 3,531 respectively) and won more than 100 matches (105 and 113 from a total of 132 respectively) in series history.
Their dominance is also highlighted by the fact that of the 22 Cup finals played on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, only two have not featured Australia or New Zealand. The exceptions are England's win over USA in Houston in 2013 and Canada's win over the same opponents at the last round in Sydney.
Three-time series winners New Zealand inevitably boast the best record of the two in Cup finals, winning 11 of their 15 appearances in comparison to Australia's six from 13. Australia, though, have been responsible for three of the Black Ferns' Sevens losses in title deciders with England the other side to beat New Zealand. Canada are the only other nation to have beaten Australia in a Cup final.
Delving a little deeper, it's clear that Portia Woodman (main picture) loves facing Australia as she is New Zealand's top try and point scorer in the match-up with 12 and 60. Emilee Cherry, like Woodman a former World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year, leads the way for Australia with eight and 42.
Australia are set to be the most experienced squad in Las Vegas this weekend with their 12 players having 158 tournaments between them and seven of them with more than 15 to their names. New Zealand's provisional squad has 127 tournaments, just slightly below Canada's tally of 131. New Zealand do boast the only player to have never missed a series round, though, in captain Sarah Goss.