There may have been an abundance of rugby talent on the fields at the TECT National Sevens, New Zealand's best player was in the stands soaking up the action.

Black Fern Kendra Cocksedge, who became the first woman to win the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year gong at the New Zealand Rugby Awards last week, was in the grandstand cheering on her favourite teams just like all other rugby fans.

"It's been a really good couple of days of sevens. When I arrived I probably had itchy feet a little bit, seeing the red and blacks (Canterbury) out there playing," Cocksedge said.

"It would be quite cool to be out there playing, but my time with sevens is done and it's good to sit back and watch the talent that's coming through," Cocksedge said.


It was a rare opportunity to be a spectator for the 30-year-old, who has earned 47 caps, and scored more than 250 points for the Black Ferns since her debut in 2007, however it was not all rest and relaxation - she is also the New Zealand Rugby women's rugby development manager for the Crusaders region.

She said the talent on display in the women's tournament was "amazing".

"The quality of the sevens and rugby in general has changed, just watching this weekend - the catch and pass, the speed, the physicality of it, it's actually a really good game to watch."

The Black Ferns' Kendra Cocksedge fends off an opponent during a match against France. Photo / Getty Images
The Black Ferns' Kendra Cocksedge fends off an opponent during a match against France. Photo / Getty Images

Cocksedge grew up in Taranaki but plays provincial rugby for Canterbury, who she has led to back-to-back Farah Palmer Cup titles, so her allegiance was a little torn during the sevens tournament - particularly when the two provinces came up against each other in pool play.

"There's a few girls that just specialise in sevens, but with Canterbury the majority of them play 15s as well. I think that's quite important, especially if you're new to the game, it's good to play 15s and learn it a bit more, then you can take those skills into sevens."

She said the fact she had won Player of the Year had not really had a chance to sink in yet, she was straight on a plane to Tauranga after the awards.

"I haven't had a lot of time to soak it up, but over Christmas and New Years I'll have a chance to do that with close friends and family. It's been a pretty awesome year for myself and I want to keep working harder to be selected next year and hopefully get to 50 caps.

"The women's game has changed a lot since I started when I was four years old. Coming through and playing with the boys was always a challenge, but it's been good for my game. I also think, in terms of the quality, people want to watch it now. We're playing good expansive rugby, whereas it used to be a bit up the guts, just give it to the big girl."


She said the public reaction to her winning the award had been overwhelming and that, alongside the Mount Maunganui-based Black Ferns Sevens winning Team of the Year, was a big step for women's rugby.

"The amount of messages I've received from some big names out there is pretty cool. Being a female winner you get the odd troll, but the majority of the support has been really positive and I'm really grateful for that.

"It's hugely important for the women's game, to have that exposure. I keep saying I want young girls to come through and want to be a Black Fern and live the dream we get to live every day. The more we can be exposed and be seen on that stage winning awards and winning on the world stage the better it is for young ones coming through.

"And that's not just young girls, but young boys coming through too. It's not only about the girls and rugby, just kids playing sports."