PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2006, 12:00am


For the first six years of the Sevens, New Zealand were represented by provincial sides before local organisers said enough was enough and declined them an invitation in 1982.

The following year, the New Zealand Rugby Football Union decided it was time to send a representative team, but it wasn't until 1986 that the Kiwis lay their hands on the cup.

And so began New Zealand's proud tradition, which has seen them unearth superstars such as Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen.

New Zealand's union was the first to recognise how important sevens could be - the Kiwis were instrumental in setting up the IRB Sevens Series, thus assuring they didn't lose players and consolidating their feeder system.

The black strip, the haka and the slick play all contribute to New Zealand's aura. Gone are the days when Manawatu or Auckland carried the flag. Today, New Zealand rely on the next generation to carry the day.