The Black Ferns Sevens have been the dominant force in the women's game for the last 12 months, winning six successive titles on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, defending their Rugby World Cup Sevens crown and claiming the first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal.

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They have won 36 matches in a row on the series since being humbled 31-0 by Australia in the HSBC Sydney Sevens final in January 2018, 49 in total if you include RWC Sevens, the Commonwealth Games and the Fast Four invitational tournament in Hamilton in January 2019.

That leaves them one short of the 37-match run they put together between April 2014 and May 2015, one that also was preceded by a loss to Australia in a Cup final, this time in Sao Paulo. On that occasion, it was a surprise 19-15 defeat to Spain in the pool stages in London that brought the Black Ferns Sevens' run to an end.

New Zealand open their bid for a third successive HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens title against hosts and invitational team Japan on Saturday, and even with a few star names missing through injury – including two-time World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year and 2019 series top try-scorer Michaela Blyde – they will be expected to equal their record run.

That leaves Russia, a side they have only lost to once in 20 series meetings, standing between them and a new benchmark.

If they can preserve their winning run in Kitakyushu then they will be closing in on the men's series record of 47 victories set by New Zealand from May 2007 to April 2008.

We've delved a little deeper into the statistics of both runs, and while they show the dominance of the Black Ferns Sevens, they also show some subtle changes in approach as the women's game has grown exponentially in the years between the runs.

As the table below shows, the scoring statistics across the runs are similar, but the current crop of players have conceded fewer points and tries.

   2014-15  2018-19
Points scored  1,187  1,126
Points conceded  302  246
Tries scored  189  184
Tries conceded  52  40


In both winning sequences, the Black Ferns Sevens have kept the opposition scoreless on 10 occasions. The average winning margin is also similar, as the table below shows, but in terms of the margin of victory it is the class of 2018-19 that have a slight edge with two-thirds of their 36 matches in the current run won by 21 points or more as opposed to 21 matches in the period between 2014 and 2015.

In fact, only 11 of the 73 matches played across the runs have been won by less than seven points, seven in 2014-15 and four in 2018-19. 

Canada have scored the most points against the Black Ferns Sevens in both runs, losing 24-22 in the Cup semi-final in Atlanta in March 2015 and then 28-19 at the same stage in the 2019 series opener in Glendale last October. 

   2014-15  2018-19
Average winning margin  23.9 points  24.4 points
Matches won by seven or more points  30  32
Matches won by 21 or more points  21  24


New Zealand will, once Kitakyushu kicks off, have used a total of 33 players across the two runs, 21 players in each sequence, with only captain Sarah Hirini and play-maker Tyla Nathan-Wong (pictured above) having played in every tournament across both.

Seventeen players scored tries in the 2014-15 winning run, Portia Woodman dotting down an incredible 59 tries in total – including four hat-tricks and two five-try hauls – and scoring in all bar five of the 37 matches. Sixteen players have scored tries so far in the current run with Blyde leading the way with 42.

From a game analysis perspective, the 2018-19 run has seen New Zealand turn the ball over less, concede fewer penalties, kick more restarts long, create less rucks and score more tries from their own half than their 2014-15 counterparts.

The current crop of players have also been more ruthless in attack, showing their ability to capitalise on turnovers to score without passing and also to hold onto the ball for longer periods. However, with opposition defences having improved since 2015, they are now scoring 12 per cent fewer tries without a breakdown occurring and five per cent fewer tries from restarts.

They have also enjoyed an extra 25 seconds of possession per game than their 2014-15 counterparts, dominating possession against all bar one of the 15 teams they have faced – Ireland being the exception having enjoyed 53 per cent possession against the Black Ferns Sevens in their three meetings in this period. 

Results in current 36-match winning run

 Date  Opponent Score  Event
 21/04/2018  Japan  38-5  Kitakyushu
 21/04/2018  USA  31-12  Kitakyushu
 21/04/2018  France   38-7  Kitakyushu
 22/04/2018 - Quarter-final  China   50-0   Kitakyushu
 22/04/2018 - Semi-final  Australia  17-12  Kitakyushu
 22/04/2018 - Final  France  24-12   Kitakyushu
 12/05/2018   Brazil  51-0   Langford
 12/05/2018   England   22-0   Langford
 12/05/2018   Fiji   12-7   Langford 
 13/05/2018 - Quarter-final  England   17-12   Langford 
 13/05/2018 - Semi-final  USA   33-10  Langford 
 13/05/2018 - Final   Australia  46-0  Langford 
 08/06/2018  England   24-12  Paris
 08/06/2018  Wales  54-7   Paris
 08/06/2018  Ireland  17-0   Paris
 09/06/2018 - Quarter-final   Spain   38-0   Paris 
 09/06/2018 - Semi-final  Canada   34-7   Paris
 10/06/2018 - Final  Australia   33-7  Paris
 20/10/2018   China  48-0  Glendale
 20/10/2018   England  28-7  Glendale
 20/10/2018   USA  35-12  Glendale
 21/10/2018 - Quarter-final   Ireland  34-7  Glendale
 21/10/2018 - Semi-final  Canada  28-19  Glendale
 21/10/2018 - Final  USA  33-7  Glendale
 29/11/2018  Kenya  34-7  Dubai
 29/11/2018  Russia  29-12   Dubai
 29/11/2018  Ireland  24-17   Dubai
 30/11/2018 - Quarter-final   Russia  31-0   Dubai
 30/11/2018 - Semi-final   USA   22-0  Dubai
 30/11/2018 - Final   Canada   26-14   Dubai
 01/02/2019  Papua New Guinea  38-5   Sydney
 01/02/2019  France  31-7   Sydney
 01/02/2019  England   29-5   Sydney
 02/02/2019 - Quarter-final   Canada   17-7   Sydney
 03/02/2019 - Semi-final  USA   29-5   Sydney
 03/02/2019 - Final  Australia  34-10  Sydney

Results in record 37-match winning run

 Date  Opponent  Score  Event
 05/04/2014  Brazil   33-0  Guangzhou
 05/04/2014  China  50-0   Guangzhou
 05/04/2014  Spain  26-5   Guangzhou
 06/04/2014 - Quarter-final  France  42-7   Guangzhou
 06/04/2014 - Semi-final  Fiji  26-0   Guangzhou
 06/04/2014 - Final  Australia  26-12   Guangzhou
 16/05/2014  USA  43-7  Amsterdam
 16/05/2014  Ireland  28-7  Amsterdam
 16/05/2014  Spain  19-5  Amsterdam
 17/05/2014 - Quarter-final  Russia  36-0  Amsterdam
 17/05/2014 - Semi-final  England  26-10  Amsterdam
 17/05/2014 - Final  Australia  29-12  Amsterdam
 04/12/2014  China  43-0  Dubai
 04/12/2014  USA  24-19   Dubai
 04/12/2014  Russia  29-12  Dubai
 05/12/2014 - Quarter-final  Russia  19-17  Dubai
 05/12/2014 - Semi-final  France  31-10  Dubai
 05/12/2014 - Final  Australia  19-17  Dubai
 07/02/2015   USA  35-12  Sao Paulo
 07/02/2015  Spain  36-7  Sao Paulo
 07/02/2015  France  54-0  Sao Paulo
 08/02/2015 - Quarter-final  USA  28-17  Sao Paulo
 08/02/2015 - Semi-final  France  12-5  Sao Paulo
 08/02/2015 - Final  Australia  17-10  Sao Paulo
 14/03/2015  Russia  17-12  Atlanta
 14/03/2015  South Africa  52-0  Atlanta
 14/03/2015  USA  57-0  Atlanta
 15/03/2015 - Quarter-final  Brazil  36-0  Atlanta
 15/03/2015 - Semi-final  Canada  24-22  Atlanta
 15/03/2015 - Final  USA  50-12  Atlanta
 18/04/2015  Fiji  38-14  Langford
 18/04/2015  Spain  45-10  Langford
 18/04/2015  England  24-12  Langford
 19/04/2015 - Quarter-final  Fiji  26-5  Langford
 19/04/2015 - Semi-final  England  24-14  Langford
 19/04/2015 - Final  Russia  29-10  Langford
 15/05/2015  Brazil  34-0  London