New Zealand have been forced to pull out of the latest World Rugby Sevens Series events in Spain due to travel restrictions.
The men’s and women’s teams had planned to compete in their first competitions – outside of the Olympics – since March 2020, but the government’s extension to Managed Isolation and Quarantine protocols has seen them cancel their trip.
It came on the day they announced their squads and it left men’s coach Clark Laidlaw frustrated.
“We all thought maybe vaccines and boosters would allow us to be able to travel and be back playing, doing our job; it’s what we get paid to do, it’s what we love doing, so it’s definitely disappointing and frustrating,” Laidlaw told NZME.
“The other side of the coin is: we can’t control it, so we have already talked as a group that… we have to crack on and prepare so that when the borders do open we have no excuses.”
Big year for Sevens
The players will look to fill their time and continue their development by playing domestic competitions, while also taking part in training camps.
It is a big year for Sevens, with the Commonwealth Games and World Cup scheduled for 2022, but New Zealand are very much behind in their preparation.
Laidlaw doesn’t believe there will be too much sympathy for his side, however, with them always among the favourites for every tournament they play in.
“It’s going to be two years with no overseas rugby apart from Olympics, but I’m not sure the rest of the world will be that fussed that they’ve had six tournaments and we’ve had none. I think they’ll be enjoying the opportunity to try and get ahead of us,” he added.
“We just need to keep our heads down, get back preparing really well and fingers crossed and god willing we can rejoin the World Series and start testing ourselves again as we build towards Birmingham and Cape Town.”