Ruby Tui and Michaela Blyde aren’t just brilliant rugby sevens players: the pair look unassailable in the race for ‘best interview at the Tokyo Olympics’ gold.
In a world of anodyne, cliche-replete sports interviews, Ruby Tui and Michaela Blyde of the Black Ferns sevens are a coruscating beam of light. Having taken part in an extraordinary comeback, which saw them recover from 21-0 down against Team GB to win their second game in the women’s rugby sevens at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics 26-21 (with Blyde scoring a hat-trick of tries) the pair last night joined one of our best broadcasters, Rikki Swannell, for an interview that sets the bar almost impossibly high for all everyone else.
Sky Sport NZ called it the “best interview ever”, which might be a pinch of hyperbole, but not by much. It’s definitely good enough to warrant transcribing in full, and if there is any justice in the world it should be rewarded with a million golds for Aotearoa.
Rikki Swannell: Ruby Tui!
Ruby Tui: Rikki!
Swannell: We’re gonna try keep this serious because it’s serious business at the Olympics. Don’t think we’ve got much chance but anyway: 21-0 down. That’s a heck of a hole you’d dug yourselves. How’d you get out of it?
Tui: It was part of the plan, obviously. Nah, there’s not enough hand sanitiser in the whole of Japan to clean that whole act up. That was absolutely terrible at the beginning. There’s nothing like your captain [Sarah Hirini] looking you in the eye and telling you to clean your act up that makes you change that quicksmart. One thing we got to work on was winning. It sounds easy, a good win, but it takes a lot of mentality and it takes team prep and culture that we’ve been working on for years, bro. Sorry about that one. Sorry, Mum. Won’t do that again.
Swannell: What did Sarah say to you at half time then?
Tui: To be honest … Have you ever been pukana’d before?
Swannell: Yes, once or twice.
Tui: It was more the eyes. But, nah, she just told us: that’s not good enough. That’s not doing the black jersey proud. Jokes aside: this means a heck of a lot. We’ve been away from our families for a long time. But the cool thing is we had each other’s back, could pat each other on the back, could put our hand up and say, sorry, look each other in the eye, still, through all those mistakes.
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Swannell: It helps to have someone who can score three tries. Michaela, just firstly, you limped off a little bit towards the end, are you all right?
Michaela Blyde: I’m fine, yeah.
Tui: She was doing a TikTok, she’s fine.
Blyde: I’m just having a psych, you know, making the other teams think something’s wrong with me.
Swannell: I’d imagine there’s a bit to come from the coaches when you get back in the sheds, though, because that start was not what you would expect. Where do you want to tidy up going in tomorrow?
Tui: They really want to talk about the start.
Blyde: They really do, don’t they? First of all, our tackles weren’t good enough, nowhere near good enough for an Olympic level so tomorrow we’ll be stepping that up, I guarantee it. Our tackles and our warmup will be 10 times more intense than it was today. Not to say that we took this team lightly at all. That’s sevens for you. No matter what colour your jersey is, what your history is with success, when it comes to the Olympic Games, everyoney’s gonna step up. And GB definitely did in that first seven.
Tui: Props to GB! Like, they got all their funding cut for Covid. They had nothing, no jerseys, they had nothing, and they still turned up to the Olympics. They took a knee for their English brothers. Like, props to GB, man. They really gave it to us.
Swannell: You guys joined them in taking the knee. Was that something you’d discussed earlier, what was the thinking?
Blyde: We found out literally as we were lining up in the tunnel but, you know, we have so much respect for every team in this campaign for world women’s sevens, and it’s extremely gutting what the English soccer team had to go through [in the racist backlash]. It’s hard to believe that things like that are still happening in this world in 2021. We were more than happy to join with GB and credit for those boys.
Tui: We’re human, too, eh?
Blyde: We’re absolutely human. Oh my gosh we are human. And that game is so much proof that we are human, oh my gosh.
Tui: When someone’s suffering, we’ve got their back. Anything you need. [winks at camera]
Swannell: Ruby Tui and Michaela Blyde, I’ll let you go.
Tui: Who’s commentating? Is it you?
Swannell: No. I’m here [on the sideline].
Tui: Whoever’s commentating – we want some puns. Let’s go.
Update, July 31
Ruby Tui is on fire – here’s another example of her interviewee form at the games. Winning all the hearts and all the minds.