New Zealand Sevens | Four things we learned
1) Fiji back at its best
It has been a while since Fiji lifted the trophy. The Olympic Champions won the last title at the Hong Kong 7s in April 2017. However, this weekend the Islanders bounced back with their trademark free-flowing style which won them so many medals.
A hard-fought comeback from 17-5 down at half-time against series leaders South Africa was required to claim the New Zealand Sevens title. Fiji’s outstanding player was Alasio Sovita Naduva who scored a hat-trick in the final. He deservedly claimed the HSBC Player of the Final honour afterwards.
Fiji moved into the third position, seven points behind New Zealand and 15 points behind current champions South Africa.
2) Move to Hamilton was a good choice
Many visitors and TV viewers might still remember the depressing pictures of last year’s New Zealand Sevens when the tournament took place in an almost empty Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Some might blame the organisers who apparently have been very harsh on implementing stricter rules to turn a beer festival into a family-friendly get-together. In theory, that wasn't a bad idea, but the balance wasn’t right, and a lot of fans stayed away.
Moving the tournament, 375 miles up north, to the slightly smaller Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, turned out to be a smart decisition. The event was sold out both days and fans were a lot happier about the atmosphere.
3) It’s a Southern Hemisphere affair
The competition for the World Sevens Series title turns out to be a race between the Southern Hemisphere teams. Currently, the top 5 are South Africa, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Argentina.
England, the best-placed team from the Northern Hemisphere are sitting in sixth position, with France being 10th. The Series has traditionally been dominated by teams from the south as there hasn’t been one single European winner since its introduction in ‘99.
England managed to finish second on four occasions, including last year, but this season all signs indicate that it's going to be a race between the Super Rugby nations plus the 7s specialists from Fiji.
Maybe it’s time for a Team GB at the series, although it isn’t the most popular idea, a British selection has shown a great performance at the Olympics.
4) Gonzales scores potential try of the year
Try-saving tackles are a wonderful thing, at least for the defending team. They are an act of heroism and often change the dynamic of the game. You see them often in 7s, however, what you don’t see often is a try-saver, followed by a turnover and a try, all by the same person.
Argentina's Luciano Gonzales managed to do this last weekend in Hamilton. What a lad!
All pictures: World Rugby