All Blacks

Ben Smith sticks with All Blacks and NZ Rugby

The 30-year-old Highlanders player had several overseas offers, but re-signing with New Zealand Rugby meant he would be available for the 2019 World Cup in Tokyo.

As part of his contract, Smith also an option of an extended breaks from the game and also had an early termination clause after the World Cup.

"It's been an interesting few months as we have worked through what was best for my family and career over the next few years. In the end we are happy with our decision to stay in New Zealand," Smith said.

All Blacks Sevens beaten in Sydney semi-final

RNZ reports England will face South Africa in the final after Australia were well beaten by the Blitzboks 26-12 in the second semi-final.

The All Blacks Sevens and England played out a low scoring match marked by ruthless defence, as two teams that rely on power over pace struggled to break a second half deadlock.

Regan Ware scored the opening try and was then denied a second after a lob pass from Tim Mikkelson was ruled forward.

Phil Burgess answered with a try for England giving them parity 5-5 at half-time.

All Blacks Sevens to open against Samoa

"We always knew it would be an interesting subject, but for us it is just one of three games on day one that we need to take off and do well in. In the end, we are playing the players, not what surrounds it," says Waldrom of New Zealand's Pool C opponents, along with France and USA.

Samoa have been the under-achievers of the sevens circuit since they won the 2009-10 World Series, but should be fitter and more well drilled under Tietjens in his first official World Series game in charge of his new team.

Milner-Skudder signs on for three more years

The 26-year-old said it had been an easy decision to stay with his club and country, as he contemplated the next phase of his rugby career.

"Being part of the Hurricanes for the past three years has been an awesome experience and though I wasn't able to play a big part on the field last year, winning the Super Rugby trophy for the first time only reinforced my view that the club is building something special.

"My partner and I really enjoy living in Wellington and with the British and Irish Lions on the horizon, 2017 shapes as a huge year."

Cruden couldn't resist French affair

RNZ reports the 28-year-old, who has 47 caps for New Zealand, this morning confirmed he's signed a three-year deal.

Cruden said, "It's with great sadness that this will be my last year playing rugby here in New Zealand, representing Manawatu, the Chiefs and also the All Blacks.

Ben Smith's future 'in the balance' as NZ Rugby could lose two of big three

Now there is a very real possibility two of those three high-profile stars will leave these shores by the end of this year.

It is enough to make the All Blacks coach sit up in his summer deckchair. Should that scenario eventuate, it would again create cause for concern around the vulnerability of elite New Zealand players.

Where previously NZ Rugby have been "quietly confident" of keeping the likes of All Blacks captain Kieran Read, Owen Franks and Beauden Barrett, when it comes to Smith indications are his decision remains very much "in the balance".

NZ Rugby moves to keep Smith, Dagg and Cruden in New Zealand

RNZ reports the union has tabled its final deals for Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden, and says it will give them the time they need to make a decision.

The trio's contracts end after the British and Irish Lions tour in June and all three have received lucrative offers to join French clubs.

While conceding New Zealand Rugby would never be able to match the big money bids from overseas, NZR chief executive Steve Tew said they had done all they could to retain the services of the three key backs.

All Black Sevens have to be at their best by Wellington

The All Blacks Sevens have improved to fifth in the overall standings after their third place finish in the second round in Cape Town.

The New Zealanders beat Kenya 28-7 in the quarter-finals, but lost 14-7 to South Africa in the semi-finals.

They then beat Scotland 24-19 in the play-off for third.

It’s an improved performance by the New Zealanders after they finished 8th in the opening leg in Dubai.

England beat South Africa 19-17 in the final.

Waldrom is happy with the improvement his side showed from the first round.

Wellington Sevens draw pits Gordon Tietjens' Samoa against former side New Zealand

When New Zealand kick off their Wellington Sevens campaign on January 28, a familiar face will be plotting their downfall from the opposition bench.

Gordon Tietjens, New Zealand's sevens coach of 23 years, takes over as head coach of the Samoan sevens programme from January 1.

His first mission on the rugby field will be a 1.41pm Pool C match against his former side at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.

Standing on the other side of halfway will be two of Tietjens' former players in Tomasi Cama and Scott Waldrom. For 14 minutes they will be anything but friends.

Blitzboks beat Rio champs to gold in Dubai

The All Black sevens were crushed 40-nil by South Africa in this morning's Cup quarter-finals before being beaten by Australia 20-12 in the fifth place playoff.

New Zealand finished equal seventh/eighth alongside France and sit in the same place in the standings with 10 points.

South Africa claimed top prize after they beat last season's series champions and Olympic gold medallists, Fiji, 26-14 in the final.