Undoubtedly the quiet achiever of the New Zealand Rugby All Blacks Sevens Team is Tim Mikkelson. Since his debut in 2007 and particularly in the last few seasons he has been the glue of a team that in his tenure has one a Commonwealth gold medal, five IRB Sevens World Series and the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens. Following injuries to Kiwi talisman DJ Forbes, Mikkelson captained the team in the 2012/2013 Tokyo, Glasgow and London tournaments. Now the underrated player has the ultimate individual accolade in the sport, the IRB Sevens Player of the Year.
The prize came soon after New Zealand won the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens, held in Moscow, Russia at Luzhniki Stadium. The 10th recipient of the award, his fellow nominees were Dan Norton from England and Joji Raqamate from Fiji. Mikkelson was nominated for the award in 2014, but ultimately lost out to Fiji’s Samisoni Viriviri.
Tim Mikkelson was the fifth New Zealand player to win the title, after Orene Ai’i (2005), Afeleke Pelenise (2007), DJ Forbes (2008) and Tomasi Cama (2012). He probably lacks the x-factor of those previous winners, and may not have the natural talent of even his contemporaries in the team. His award was a victory for determination, consistency and reliability – essential qualities in any team. In fact, New Zealand sevens guru Sir Gordon Tietjens has called Tim Mikkelson the fittest member of his squad – quite an accolade considering the notorious fitness levels of the New Zealand All Blacks Sevens Team.
Tim Mikkelson has also been blessed with impressive robustness considering the brutal nature of his sport, ensuring he very rarely misses a tournament through injury. He has been able to clock up 39 tournaments from his debut to the end of the 2012/2013 season. Hopefully his good fortune will hold up leading to the Olympic Games in 2016, when he will be 30. While he will certainly be in his twilight years as a sevens player, fortunately his game is not based on outright speed but consistency, fitness and game awareness, although his rangy running style is faster than it looks. Tim Mikkelson is 191 cm tall and around 103 kg. He was born on 13 August, 1986.
Months after being given rugby sevens most illustrious prize, Mikkelson was back to the grind stone, playing for the Waikato provincial team as they took the coveted Ranfurly Shield on the road. This included scoring two tries against Ngati Pourou East Coast in New Zealand rugby heartland at Ruatoria’s Whakarua Park. The game featured the local team unable to wear their usual strip as fog had delayed the arrival of the team uniforms. The crowd also rushed onto the field to participate in the pregame haka. It’s all a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the awards ceremony in Russia less than a month earlier. Mikkelson has been a member of the Waikato NPC rugby team since 2008, usually playing on the wing.
Tim Mikkelson Bio and Stats
All Blacks Sevens Debut: 2007
Waikato NPC Debut: 2008
Weight: 103 kg
IRB World Sevens Tournaments: 39 (as of the end of the 2012/2013 season)