Rugby sevens: New Zealand Rugby challenged to keep game alive as World Series pulls pin on Hamilton tournament

New Zealand Rugby is being urged to "pull finger" to ensure sevens thrives in the future following the end of a 22-year stint as a World Series host.

The Black Ferns Sevens finished the final Hamilton event with a dominant win, while the All Blacks Sevens came within a fingertip of doing the same.

But it's what happens now the event's gone that's the focus with the national body vowing to find new ways to keep the game alive in New Zealand.

The Black Ferns Sevens delivered the perfect farewell to the New Zealand leg of the World Series.

The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens.
The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens. Photo credit: Photosport

Their unbeaten record in Hamilton extended, but the victory was bittersweet, knowing it could be the last time they get to do it at home.

"We wanted to come and celebrate the legacy of sevens," said captain Sarah Hirini. "We want a fanbase here in New Zealand.

"That's important for us, to be able to grow our game, for young boys and young girls to want to take up rugby."

In December, World Rugby announced the number of World Series tournaments would be reduced to seven and be played in "iconic destinations".

It meant New Zealand was axed from the calendar, but New Zealand Rugby (NZR) isn't giving up hope of a return. 

"Never say never," NZR's general manager of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum said. "We're going to do some things in the next 12 to 24 months to make sure sevens keeps its connections with the community."

That could be in the form of an exhibition-type tournament with the Pacific and Australia. 

However it looks, the All Blacks Sevens will hope Sunday wasn't their final act at home, going within a whisker of top spot in Hamilton, losing to Argentina in the men's final.

Captain Sam Dickson is putting the pressure on NZR to keep the game alive.

"It's up to the NZRU to pull finger, and get some nationals or some local tournaments going so we can keep building our team," he said.

Coach Clark Laidlaw concurred with the sentiment of his skipper.

"They know what we need to get sevens here," he said. "We've already started planning behind the scenes to get tournaments here."

And the New Zealand national body is assuring our top players they will continue to get opportunities at home.

"We definitely want to see sevens here on our shores," added Lendrum. "If it's not through the World Series next year, then we'll find another way to do that."

In the hope this won't be the last time a New Zealand team reigns supreme on home soil.