Text, Picture and Video: World Rugby
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was decided on the final day of the series as Fiji beat the USA in the Cup semi-finals to secure a fourth world series title.
Gareth Baber’s outfit, who went into this last stop of the series two points ahead of the USA, marched on to cap their series-clinching day with the tournament victory after beating New Zealand 35-24 in the Cup final.
(PICTURE & TEXT VIA WORLD RUGBY)
South Africa are the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions.
The Blizboks beat Scotland 15-5 in a tense final at the Stade Jean Bouin on Sunday evening but had earlier wrapped up the series after they beat New Zealand in the Cup semi-finals and England's earlier loss to Scotland at the same stage meant that they could not overtake the South Africans. Fiji, second in the standings before the tournament, exited at the quarter-final stage.
Text, Pictures and Videos: World Rugby
The stage is set for an exhilarating finale to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Sunday as the top two teams in the standings, Fiji and South Africa, successfully secured their places in the quarter-finals at the 10th and final round in Paris.
England will take on Fiji, while South Africa face Spain, Ireland play Canada and New Zealand are drawn against USA in what promises to be a hotly contested quarter-final line-up.
Series leaders Australia will play Fiji while New Zealand, who are in hot pursuit in the race for the series title, will face Spain as the quarter final line-up was confirmed after an action packed first day of competition at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris.
In the other quarter-finals hosts France take on England, while Canada against USA completes the line-up.
With Australia leading rivals New Zealand by just four points in the standings, the stage is set for an epic climax to the series. The two dominant teams find themselves on different sides of the quarter-final draw meaning they could meet in the final. A silver medal in Paris would be enough to secure the series title for Australia.
Both nations recorded perfect records on day one with three straight victories to top their groups. Australia began with a 24-10 victory against Fiji, followed by a tense 24-20 defeat of Russia and finished the day with a convincing 31-14 win over Canada. New Zealand started the day with a hard fought 24-12 win over England, before beating Wales 54-7 and completing the day with a solid 17-0 defeat of Ireland.
In front of an enthusiastic crowd hosts France showed their dominance to record three wins out of three with crowd pleasing victories over USA (14-5), Spain (20-0) and Japan (26-17). France are currently third in the series standings and will be hoping to secure a place on the podium on home turf.
Invitational team Wales created a moment of history by scoring their first ever try on their first series world series appearance against Ireland, despite going down to a 24-5 defeat.
The fifth and final round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2018 sees three days of intense rugby sevens action in a combined event with the men’s series finale.
The men’s tournament begins on Saturday 9 June with Australia taking on Wales in the first game of the day at 09:00 local time (GMT+2). A large crowd is expected as the women’s action returns to the pitch at 15:02 local time (GMT+2).
Paris Sevens | Results Day 1
Paris Sevens | Fixtures Day 2
New Zealand finished the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in style with a convincing 33-7 win over rivals Australia in the final of the HSBC Women’s Paris Sevens to take the gold medal.
Both teams had reason to celebrate at the final whistle as the silver medal in Paris means Australia secure the overall series crown by virtue of their consistency across the series, finishing on the podium in each of the five rounds. Australia finished the series with 92 points, ahead of New Zealand on 90.
Hosts France claimed the series bronze medal despite being defeated 17-10 by Canada in the third-place play-off match in Paris.
Rugby World Cup Sevens qualification, the series title and relegation fights are all on the agenda this weekend as teams get set for the HSBC Paris Sevens.
The ninth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicks off at the Stade Jean Bouin in central Paris on Saturday with South Africa leading the standings, 25 points ahead of Fiji with England a further two points behind in third.
South Africa failed to reach the final for the first time this season in Singapore last month, but should they reach the Cup decider or lift the silverware in Paris then they would only need to take the field at Twickenham next weekend to secure a second series crown and first since 2009.
However, captain Philip Snyman insists his side are taking nothing for granted and are focused only on improving from the last round.
"We're really looking forward to the sevens in Paris this upcoming weekend. We had a nice break in Stellenbosch since Singapoore and we worked hard. We want to fix some mistakes this weekend," he said.
"The guys who are joining for Paris are looking really sharp. We have guys like Rosko Specman coming back in and the team is in good spirits."
The series title is not the only focal point in Paris, though, as four teams will be looking to cement their passage to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco.
Nine teams have already qualified, the quarter-finalists from RWC Sevens 2013 in Moscow - New Zealand, England, Fiji, Kenya, South Africa, Wales, Australia, and France - and USA as 2018 hosts.
Four teams can join them through the 2016-17 series as the best ranked outside those nine qualifiers with Canada, Argentina and Scotland able to confirm their qualification this weekend in Paris. The final spot from the series looks to be a race between defending Paris champions Samoa and Russia with the Pacific islanders nine points ahead of their rivals.
"I think RWC Sevens is a really special event for Canada, it being in the States and so close to us. I think San Fran will be a cool venue. Just getting that qualification done and sorted out will be great and then we can look forward to the actual tournament," said Nate Hirayama, who captained Canada to their first series Cup title in Singapore.
Further down the series standings Japan, who finished fourth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, are battling to avoid losing their status as a core team on the series as they lie nine points behind Russia with two rounds left.
Spain, who join the 15 core teams as the invitational team in Paris and London, will replace the relegated side next season after winning the 2017-18 series qualifier in Hong Kong last month.
The Paris 7s take place in the home of Stade Français the Stade Jean-Bouin in the French capital (Capacity 20,000), on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of May. The matches kick-off Saturday at 10:00 local time (9:00 UK time) and Sunday 09:00 (08:00 UK time). The final is scheduled for 17:30 local time on Sunday (16:30 UK time).
In the UK, Sky Sports will cover the tournament on both days. For a full TV guide click here, for any other country check out this useful guide.
Pool A: Canada, South Africa, Scotland, Japan
Pool B: USA, New Zealand, Wales, Argentina
Pool C: England, Kenya, France, Spain
Pool D: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Russia
Full Fixture List
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