Text, Picture and Video: World Rugby
Fiji have missed out on the Cup quarter-finals for the first time in the 21-year history of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series round in Dubai, the series champions finishing third in Pool A behind France and Argentina on points difference.
The three teams all won two matches and lost one to finish on seven points, but France's points difference was one better than Argentina at +28 with Fiji's only +14. As a result, the best Fiji can hope for is ninth place and a maximum of eight series points now, providing they overcome Canada on Saturday at 16:06 local time (GMT+4).
Fiji's downfall was a 24-21 loss to Argentina, who capitalised on the yellow card to Vilimoni Botitu to work Matias Moroni over with the final play of the game to cause the shock of the day and beat the Fijians for the first time since Vancouver in 2017. It was also Fiji's first pool defeat in Dubai since England beat them back in 2010.
Australia, defending Dubai champions New Zealand and South Africa were the other pool winners and the only teams with a perfect record of three wins from three in the pool stages at 7he Sevens Stadium.
South Africa had the biggest scare in their Pool D decider with England, having to come from 14-0 down with 19 unanswered points to repeat the Springboks' victory over the same nation in the Rugby World Cup 2019 final in Tokyo on 2 November. Australia beat USA 24-12 to top Pool B, while New Zealand were more comfortable 40-7 winners over Samoa in the Pool C decider.
The Cup quarter-finals will get underway at 11:14 local time (GMT+4) on Saturday with the encounter between France and England. New Zealand will then tackle USA in a repeat of the 2018 final – which the All Blacks Sevens won 21-5 – before South Africa meet Fiji's conquerors Argentina in the third quarter-final and Australia face Samoa.
France stun defending champions New Zealand in Dubai
France provided the first shock of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2019 women's competition by beating defending champions New Zealand 19-14 in the final match of the pool stages on Friday.
Les Bleues, who beat New Zealand for the first time in another pool decider in Kitakyushu to end their record 38-match unbeaten run on the series back in April, went ahead for the second time in the game with tries from Séraphine Okemba and Joanna Grisez before their defence held firm to close out the win to top Pool C.
France's reward is a Cup quarter-final against Canada, who suffered a record 34-10 defeat by series leaders USA to finish second in Pool A. That will be the second of the quarter-finals with Australia to face Spain in the opening one, the side they beat 38-5 in the Pool B decider at 7he Sevens Stadium.
The third quarter-final pits Fiji against series champions New Zealand, who are bidding to become the first team to successfully defend the Dubai crown. Fiji finished above Spain on points difference in Pool B to reach their first quarter-final since the Paris finale of the 2018 series.
In-form USA, winners of the opening round in Glendale in October and the 2019 series finale in Biarritz, will take on Russia in the remaining quarter-final after they claimed the second-best third-place spot behind Spain.
The action resumes on Saturday with the 11th place play-off between Japan and Brazil kicking off the day's proceedings at 09:00 local time (GMT+4). The Cup quarter-finals will follow from 09:44 after the ninth place play-off between England and Ireland.