Text, Picture and Video: World Rugby
Pic: Mike Lee - KLC fotos
The curtain came down on a record-breaking HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2019 with a piece of history as USA ran out 26-10 winners over New Zealand in the HSBC France Women's Sevens final to win their first-ever Cup title.
The Black Ferns Sevens had already claimed the series crown – their fifth in seven series – by reaching the semi-finals but were denied a double celebration at the Stade Aguilera in Biarritz by an inspired USA performance.
New Zealand, playing in their unfamiliar white second kit, had won their last seven Cup final appearances but it was USA who struck first when Alev Kelter sped down the left wing for the opening try. Kelter then made the turnover after Kelly Brazier had sidestepped two players which ultimately led to Cheta Emba grabbing a second try for the Women’s Sevens Eagles.
Ruby Tui gave the Black Ferns Sevens hope when she picked up the ball from a ruck and charged down the touchline, Kelter chased and came close to denying the try but it was given after consultation with the TMO.
The try didn’t faze the USA, though, who took the restart after a juggle from Emba and Kelter – later named HSBC Player of the Final – slipped another tackle to race 70 metres for her second try, Tyla Nathan-Wong at least keeping her out wide to prevent the conversion, but they still trailed 19-5 at half-time.
New Zealand’s quest to become only the second team to come from behind at half-time to win a final – after Canada in Kitakyushu – wasn’t helped when Michaela Blyde was sin-binned for a deliberate knockdown and USA work co-captain Lauren Doyle over for their fourth try of the final.
Shakira Baker did manage to pull one try back for New Zealand but it wasn’t long before the USA were celebrating their first Cup title at the 37th event in HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series history.