Picture: World Rugby
Following a historic weekend of women’s rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games and just six days later, the 12 women’s teams are back in action 4500 miles away from the Gold Coast, in Kitakyushu, Japan.
At the Commonwealth Games, the Black Ferns won Gold in the most dramatic fashion after an extra-time thriller against their fiercest rivals Australia. It was the perfect revenge for the loss in the Olympic final two years ago. The stage is set for another fascinating contest between those two 7s powerhouses.
The Aussie 7s girls are currently 10 points ahead of New Zealand, Canada and Russia in the table and the Japan leg is a crucial one in terms of the last two tournaments after this weekend. Can Australia set themselves apart or will the race be wide open following Sunday’s final? Loads of exciting questions to be answered.
The Kitakyushu Sevens takes place at the Mikuni World Stadium (Capacity 15,000) on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of April.
The matches kick-off Saturday 10:30 (02:30 UK time) and Sunday at 10:30 local time (02:30 UK time).
For a full fixture list click here.
In the UK Sky Sports will cover the tournament on Sunday. For a full TV guide click here, for any other country check out this handy guide.
The Aussies are leading the table but had to concede a painful defeat at the Commonwealth Games last weekend. In addition, they are missing their star-trio Charlotte Caslick, Sharni Williams and Ellia Green. Although the team has a lot of quality in their squad, competing without those three makes things much harder.
This shall give New Zealand even more confidence to go all the way and bag the 20 valuable points by winning the first series tournament this year. England also played a strong tournament in Australia last weekend, winning Bronze in the final against Canada. Can they cause another upset?
One of the reason for England’s good form is Jess Breach. She scored nine tries in Sydney and is the one to watch in Kitakyushu!
Women's World Sevens Series | Standings
Women's World Sevens Series | Fixtures Kitakyushu
Text, Picture and Video: World Rugby
Brazil won promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2020 after beating Scotland in the annual world series qualifier in Hong Kong.
After two days of thrilling action, head coach Reuben Samuel's side finished up as 28-19 winners over a strong Scottish outfit, scoring 120 points in six games at the 12-team tournament.
HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series leaders New Zealand were the only side with a perfect record on day one of the HSBC Sydney Sevens, although Ireland were also unbeaten on a day of upsets.
Picture & Text: World Rugby
New Zealand, Australia and Canada unbeaten on day one in Clermont - Black Ferns Sevens still on course to claim fourth series title
The Black Ferns Sevens, along with Canada and Australia, won their three matches at the HSBC Clermont-Ferrand Sevens, meaning they can wrap up the series with a semi-final appearance on Sunday.
Sunday’s quarter-finals will see Canada take on Ireland, Australia plays USA, Russia meet hosts France and New Zealand take on Fiji.
Elsewhere, Australia, Fiji, Russia and France also guaranteed their spots at next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco. They join New Zealand, Spain, Canada and the USA who were already qualified for the event in July 2018.
With just one more day of action to play this season, Russia’s Alena Mikhaltsova still leads the DHL tracker ahead of Ireland’s Lucy Mulhall and New Zealand’s Michaella Blyde.
Ireland scored the first try of the day when Stacey Flood crossed against USA. It was all Ireland in the first half, but the Americans got off the mark with a superb Ryan Carlyle try after some excellent work from Naya Tapper and the ever-present Jessica Javelet. Tapper, one of USA's standouts this season with 29 series tries, pounced on some sloppy Irish handling and ran the length of the park to score the winner as it finished, 12-7.
New Zealand looked focused as they ran out against Japan, and when Ruby Tui scored early on, it looked ominous for the Japanese. However, they fought their way back in with a good attack and even better defence and were rewarded with two tries, however Niall Williams and Kiwi captain Tyla Nathan-Wong ensured it would finish 21-10 to the series leaders.
Later on, Japan showed their resolve against USA under the hot sun in the Auvergne, but despite a strong start, five tries from the Americans, including two from Alev Kelter, saw USA run out 33-5 winners. The Japanese, core team on the circuit next year, also made Ireland work hard for their 26-5 win and will be happy with their day one performances, despite not registering a win.
The only time New Zealand lost this year was against the USA in Sydney, and it was a repeat of that clash that finished the Pool A proceedings on Saturday. Nathan-Wong opened the scoring and with the conversion, passed the 500 series points mark. Tapper scored another two for USA to add to her haul, but New Zealand’s dominance saw Gayle Broughton and Katarina Whata-Simpkins cross to ensure a 19-14 win.
England have had a poor season by their high standards and it didn’t look like changing after their opening game at Stade Gabriel Montpied. Looking focused, Russia dissected their opponents on five occasions as they ran out easy winners, 25-0.
Brazil is hoping to avoid relegation out of the series and their cause wasn’t helped when tries from Charity Williams, Natasha Watcham-Roy and Kaili Lukan put Canada in a 17-0 lead before Brazil had time to breath. Further tries in the second period from Bianca Farella and Lukan ensure a 29-0 win for Canada as Brazilian heads dropped.
But the South American's came to life in their second pool game on Saturday, claiming their first ever victory over Russia with a 12-7 shock win. Daria Bobkova scored for the Russians but Brazil, showing the passion that they’ve demonstrated all season, scored through Claudia Teles and Haline Scratut to ensure the famous win.
Canada rarely takes a backwards step these days, and England, with six debutants featuring this weekend, weren’t in a position to challenge John Tait’s side. Seven tries helped put England to the sword, 45-0, their heaviest ever defeat to the Canadians.
England and Brazil battled it out on Saturday evening at the bottom of Pool B and the 31-24 scoreline saw England finish strongly, however with Fiji beating Spain, it was not enough to secure England’s progress into the cup quarter-finals on day two.
Canada and Russia was a tighter affair, with Charity Williams making the difference towards the end, with a well-taken score ensuring they topped the pool with a 24-14 win.
Australia has happy memories of Clermont-Ferrand; it’s where they won their first series title last season before going on to win the gold at the Olympic Games in Rio. They got off to a good start against Spain with a well-taken try from Emilee Cherry who followed it up with another score moments later. Two Cassandra Staples' tries and individual efforts from Evania Pelite, Alicia Quirk and Emma Sykes saw it finish 41-5 to Australia.
France were welcomed to the park with a loud rendition of “Allez les Blues” and the local support roared them on as Jade le Pesq got the scoring underway with a well taken try against Fiji. A sin-binning didn’t help Fijiana’s cause, as they conceded another with Shannon Izar going over in the corner. Sloppy play from the French on their own line allowed Fiji to get off the mark on the stroke of half-time with Lavenia Tinai crossing unopposed. The second half saw France regain the momentum and tries from Pauline Biscarat and Carla Neissen ensured a 31-14 victory for the home side.
Australia increased the misery for Fijiana later in the day, scoring five tries to ease to a 35-5 win. France was made to work hard against Spain in the following match, with Chloe Pelle’s two tries needed to ensure the win with Amaia Erbina touching down for the Spanish; 12-7 the final score.
Fiji’s 45-7 demolition of Spain meant that Spain was consigned to the Challenge Trophy on day two, while Fiji scraped into the quarter-finals on Sunday where they'll meet New Zealand.
Australia played the hosts in the last game of the day and Montserrat Amedee put smiles on the French faces as her two tries were matched by Sharni Williams and Emilee Cherry in the first half of the pool decider. Alicia Quirk touched down for Australia and despite a late consolation, Australia topped the pool with a 20-17 win.
The action resumes on Sunday at the Stade Gabriel Montpied on day two when Canada play Ireland at midday (BST +1)
Clermont-Ferrand | Results Day 1
Clermont-Ferrand | Fixtures Day 2
Pictures, Video & Text: World Rugby
The Black Ferns Sevens also claimed the HSBC Clermont-Ferrand Sevens trophy after beating rivals Australia 22-7 on Sunday evening.
Earlier in the day, the Kiwis beat hosts France in the semi-finals meaning they could not be caught by the nearest challengers, Australia and Canada, at the top of the standings.
The Kiwis have only been beaten once this season, when USA got the better of them in Sydney in February. It's the fourth title for New Zealand since the series began in 2012, with Australia the only other team to collect a series trophy at the same venue last year.
It means Allan Bunting’s side top the overall series standings with Australia finishing second and Canada going home with the series bronze.
Speaking afterwards, New Zealand captain Tyla Nathan-Wong said: "Wow, it's an amazing feeling. It just goes to show how much heart and mana these girls have, not only here but back at home - all the girls who have pushed each other and the management that worked really hard this season.
"Finishing so close to that gold last year at the Olympics, this season we really stepped it up and brought it to them. It shows - five from six and now we're world series champions."
Michaela Blyde finished as the season’s top try scorer with 40 tries while she also finished top of the DHL Impact Player Tracker, ahead of Russia's Alena Mikhaltsova. Meanwhile, Canada finished third after beating hosts France 36-7 and Spain won the last Challenge Trophy of the season, after they beat Japan, 15-14.
New Zealand were sharp as ever going into the final and Australia had barely touched the ball before dream teamer Ruby Tui scored in the corner. That forced Australia to get creative and it wasn’t long before the experienced Sharni Williams finished off a classy team try to level, but a Niall Williams score for the Black Ferns Sevens made it 12-7 at the break.
The second half saw the Kiwis impose their dominance and the game ebbed away from the Olympic champions, as Blyde and Shakira Baker touched down under the summer sun in the Auvergne to give the win to New Zealand, 22-7.
Canada were in top form all weekend but Australia had an edge to them over the two days and Evania Pelite put John Tait’s team on the back foot early in the first semi-final. However, Canada fought back and scores from dream teamer Ghislaine Landry and the formidable Brittany Benn put them ahead at the break.
Tim Walsh was direct with his charges at half-time and it resulted in a brace of tries from Chloe Dalton, who also forced her way onto the tournament dream team, where it remained 19-14 until the final whistle, with the Australians closer to their goal of winning a first tournament title this season.
By taking the field against France, New Zealand mathematically took the title; their presence in the last four meant that they couldn’t be caught by either Canada or Australia. The Kiwis remained their usual, focused selves and were rewarded in the first half as Michaela Blyde touched down after a beautiful kick pass from Ruby Tui.
France never looked like threatening the newly crowned champions and, despite strong performances from try scorer Chloe Pelle and Shannon Izar, scores from Katarina Whata-Simpkins and Tui ensured a 21-7 victory and another Trans-Tasman showdown in the final.
Ireland showed signs of improvement after each match on day one and their defence was solid during the first five minutes of the first quarter-final. However keeping great players quiet takes resolve and it was only a matter of time before Canada’s captain Ghislaine Landry opened the scoring after spotting the gap in the defence. That put Canada on the front foot and Bianca Farella’s effort left them 12-0 up at half time. It was Farella’s footwork that set up Landry for her 100th series try and Farella’s second shortly afterwards, coupled with one for Kaili Lukan, put Canada out of sight,
Naya Tapper is one of finds of the season and the former sprinter got the scoring underway in USA's quarter-final against last season’s series winners, Australia. It was two of their star players, however, that got the game back in favour of the Australians, as Caslick made a typical scintillating break before two tries by Emillee Cherry made it 19-7 at half-time. Superb work by Ryan Carlyle made it 19-12 in the second half but Evania Pelite’s converted try in the corner helped to finish it out, 31-14 the final score.
Another warm reception welcomed France to their field as they ran out alongside Russia. The Russians started strongly in what was to be a tight and tense affair and it was on the stroke of half time when Daria Bobkova broke down the left flank to score under the posts and lead at half-time. The home support ramped up after the break and cheered every second as Chloe Pelle scored one of the tries of the weekend, bulldozing over in the corner after top teamwork in the buildup. The conversion was ruled out by the referee, despite the in-goal official raising her flag, but that only spurred the home side on and Jade le Pesq scored with one minute to go. France worked hard to keep Russia in their own half over the remaining 60 seconds and it finished 10-7 to the hosts, much to the delight of the partisan supporters in Stade Gabriel Montpied.
Based on Saturday’s performances, Fijiana were lucky to make the Cup quarters and New Zealand were in no mood to make things easy for them in their last eight match-up. Young gun Alena Saili scored twice and tries from Katarina Whata-Simpkins, Blyde and Crystal Mayes ensured an easy passage to their semis, with a 31-5 win.
This weekend’s results also mean that Brazil finished bottom of the core teams and therefore will not feature on the series next season. Japan, who won the series qualifier in Hong Kong in April, will be the eleventh team next year.
Australia have started their HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2018 campaign with an emphatic 34-0 victory over USA in the final of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens. The 2016-17 series runners-up and Olympic gold medallists produced a dominant display of flowing rugby to dazzle the packed out stands at the series opener and achieve their first tournament win since Atlanta in 2016 and their first Dubai win since 2015.
USA looked in fine fettle after their shock Cup quarter-final win over series champions New Zealand but it was a one-sided affair in the final as Australia ran in six tries to ensure they will head into their home event in Sydney top of the standings.
Emma Tonegato, who was later named HSBC Player of the Final, opened the scoring in the final following a beautiful piece of interlinking play with Charlotte Caslick and Emilee Cherry. Co-captain Sharni Williams followed up with a clever blindside break down the left to score Australia's second, which was soon added to by Player of the Tournament Evania Pelite.
In the second half, Cherry ran in an easy try after the ball spilled out on the 22-metre line, and then set up Dominque du Toit for their fifth try. Du Toit rounded off the game with an easy clean break through the middle of the USA defence following a lineout.
"We're absolutely ecstatic with that win. It's been a long time coming since that last gold medal,” Williams said. "The girls have worked extremely hard in the pre-season and it's great to get the rewards for that."
Australia will head into the next round of the series in Sydney on 26-28 January, buoyed by their result in Dubai but also one step closer to a strong seeding at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco. The seedings will be based on the 2016-17 series points combined with the first two rounds of the 2018 series.
Russia finished third following a 10-5 defeat of Canada in the bronze medal match, while two tries from Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe helped Ireland overcome South Africa 24-7 to win the Challenge Trophy.
Women's Dubai Rugby Sevens 2017 | Results Day 2
Pic: World Rugby
With Pool A wins over Wales, Argentina and Canada, Fiji finished day one of the Dubai Sevens in top position. Joined by South Africa, England and Australia, who also smoothed through the pool stage without a loss, the islanders qualified for the Cup quarter-finals and underlined their magnificent form. They will face France in the final eight tomorrow. South Africa, series runners-up for four years in a row, were the outstanding team in Pool B with victories over Scotland, USA and Uganda. The Blitzboks will play New Zealand in the Cup quarter-finals.
England, runners-up last year in Dubai, won the pool decider in Pool C, beating the All Blacks as well as Samoa and Russia. They will face local rivals Scotland on the second day. In Pool D Australia, under the captaincy of Sam Myers, secured wins against Japan, France and Kenya. Head coach Andy Friend's side will play Wales tomorrow.
11:00 | Fiji vs France
11:22 | England vs Scotland
11:44 | Australia vs Wales
12:06 | South Africa vs New Zealand
While the men’s team will continue tomorrow, the women’s finished the tournament today. Olympic Silver medallists New Zealand faced their archenemy Australia in the final. While the Aussies dominated the final in Rio, this time it was the Black Ferns who dominated. Tries from Portia Woodman and two from Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga were enough to seal the 17-5 win.
The Women's Sevens Series continues on the 3rd and 4th February 2017 in Sydney.
Dubai Sevens Women's | Results
Dubai Sevens Men's | Results Day 1
Dubai Sevens Men's | Fixtures Day 2
England were the surprise package on day one of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on Thursday, beating defending series and Dubai champions Australia and Glendale runners-up USA to finish top of a pool for the first time since the final round of the 2015-16 series.
Reigning HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series champions, New Zealand were the standout side on day one of the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens in Glendale, Colorado.
Twelve months ago France reached their first-ever Cup final on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series and on Saturday they created another piece of history at the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens with a maiden victory over New Zealand at the 22nd attempt.
New Zealand moved a step closer to regaining the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series title in Langford, Canada, on Sunday when they put in a gutsy display in the final against the home side that was enjoying playing in front of a partisan and packed crowd.
A barnstorming display by Rubi Tui that won her the HSBC Player of the Final award, spearheaded an impressive Black Ferns Sevens performance as the series champions-in-waiting registered a 17-7 victory in the final.
Two early NZ tries from Michaella Blyde (one of a remarkable nine she scored this weekend) and Tyla Nathan-Wong, rocked the home team, who found themselves 12-0 down with just three minutes gone. An eerie hush descended on Westhills Stadium, which just moments before had cheered raucously after a rousing rendition of ‘Oh Canada’. But if anyone thought it was going to be a stroll in the park for New Zealand, that’s not how it would pan out as Canada fought their way back into the game.
Indeed, with captain Ghislaine Landry leading from the front, Canada threatened to upset the Kiwis and they hit before the break with a try from speedster Julia Greenshields. And that’s the way it stayed until the final play of the game when replacement Alena Saili crossed in the corner to seal the deal for New Zealand.
Led by Tui, Theresa Fitzpatrick and Niall Williams, NZ did their best to control the ball in that tense second half and they were largely successful, frustrating the home side by denying them possession at every turn.
HSBC Player of the Final Tui was typically humble in accepting her award and also made reference to a number of players who were unable to make the trip to Langford due to commitments with the New Zealand 15s team. She said: “I couldn’t do a single part of my job if it wasn’t the whole team. There were a few girls back home we wanted to make proud, the whole Black Ferns 15s team – it’s a countrywide thing so it was great for us to be able to do that for them. I know they’ll have been following us and they’ll be so pleased.”
Far from being put off by the home support, Tui had nothing but praise for the 4,000 or so Canadians who turned up to shout for their team.
She said: “The crowd here was the bomb, they were off the chain! You can’t ask more from a home town crowd than to cheer for their country as loud as they can because to me that’s cheering for all of rugby so it’s awesome and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
While it was to be New Zealand’s day, it’s worth mentioning how good Canada were this weekend, too. Their chosen theme song, which blasted out across the ground this weekend whenever they scored, was ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ by the cult Canadian rock band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Of course, when Randy Bachman wrote that great 1970s anthem he was being somewhat ironic (“If you ever get annoyed, look at me I'm self-employed; I love to work at nothing all day”).
But no one watching the HSBC Canada Sevens in British Columbia this week could accuse these Canadians of having a work ethic that was anything short of industrious. Whether in attack or defence, they gave everything they had in every game and, in spite of the pressures put on them by the expectant home support, they rose to the occasion, moved into an overdrive of their own and took care of business in front of an adoring and, at times, delirious Langford crowd.
That is, right up to the final when they came up against a young and relatively inexperienced New Zealand that clearly had something to prove to those who said they couldn’t do it without the likes of Sarah Goss, Portia Woodman and Kelly Brazier in the side.
Earlier, the quarter-finals went pretty much to form with Canada, Australia, France and New Zealand all making it into the last four. The home team had never made it past that stage in Langford so it settled plenty of local nerves when Canada took control from the first minute of the game against England with a try from Ashley Steacy. And they never took the foot off the pedal, giving the English no way back into the game, finishing the game 33-5 to the good thanks to further tries from Landry (two), Brittany Benn and Megan Lukan.
The Aussies were too strong for the United States with a brace of tries from Emilee Cherry proving the difference as the Olympic champions ran out 22-10 winners.
France have been one of the success stories of this season’s series and again proved they are something to be reckoned with by beating a tenacious Ireland 19-5 in the third quarter-final thanks to tries from Pauline Biscarat, Fanny Horta and Montserrat Amedee.
New Zealand had it all their own way against Russia, keeping coach Andrey Kuzin’s side scoreless as Blyde, Crystal Mayes, Tui and Saili getting over the whitewash to win 24-0.
The semi-final against France was more of the same for the Black Ferns Sevens as they continued to improve through the tournament. Blyde and Mayes again scored tries, as did Katarina Whata-Simpkins and the peerless Niall Williams as NZ glided serenely into the final.
For Canada, it was less straightforward as they had to come from behind to beat Australia, who went on to beat France in the bronze final, but it was like the crowd in Westhills carried them over the line on occasion as they came back into the contest after an early Aussie try from inspirational captain Sharni Williams. Composure under pressure, coupled with the blistering pace of players like Greenshields and Charity Williams saw the local favourites into the final as they desperately sought to become the first team ever to win a series event at home. Sadly for them, that is an unusual record that still stands.
Among those who didn’t emerge from pool play, Fiji put some of that disappointment behind them by winning the Challenge Trophy, beating Spain 31-7 in the final with two stunning tries from Miriama Naiobasali. On Saturday, Fiji had given up a 14-0 lead to lose eventually to Ireland and then they went down 12-7 to Spain before playing brilliantly to hold Australia to a 24-24 draw. No one doubts that when Fiji finally click they might just be unstoppable.
Hosts Australia have made the quarter-finals for the last 15 home events but needed to beat South Africa by five points to guarantee qualification for the knockout stages.
At the opening day of the Sydney Sevens, hosts Australia, Olympic silver medallists New Zealand and Russia remained unbeaten. The second round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series kicked off early this Friday at the Allianz Stadium.
England’s women disappointed on day one after they failed to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals for the first time ever. James Bailey’s team lost to Russia and USA in their respective Pool C and have to compete for the Challenge Trophy on Saturday. England will face Papua New Guinea in the early hours of the second tournament day.
Ireland and Fiji both qualified for the quarter-finals together with France, New Zealand and Canada.
New Zealand v France
Ireland v USA
Australia v Fiji
Russia v Canada
You can follow the Sydney Sevens women's tournament live here.
Sydney Sevens Women's | Results Day 1
Sydney Sevens Women's | Fixtures Day 2
On day one of the USA Sevens, Fiji was one of six unbeaten teams. The islanders are staying on track to win a third consecutive tournament in Las Vegas. Fiji however, is still in search for the first tournament win this season, but two convincing victories over Japan and Scotland in Pool D made clear that Gareth Baber's side is in strong form.
Beside Fiji, hosts USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England all recorded two wins from two as well.
Series leaders South Africa traveled with the confidence of two back-to-back tournament wins to the USA and showed strong performances including a 26-7 win over Canada and a 24-0 win over France. The French started off strongly with a 33-7 win over Wales, who were later beaten by Damian McGrath's Canada side when Mike Fuailefau scored a late try to the delight of the large pockets of Canadian fans in the stands.
Hosts USA demonstrated once again their ambitions to win the first title on home soil with a 26-5 win over Samoa and a 31-0 victory against South American side Chile. New Zealand dominated Pool C with wins against Kenya and Russia. Argentina, started their campaign strongly beating Russia 43-0 but just drew against Kenya in their final day one match.
Australia also had a strong opening tournament day with a 28-21 win over Scotland and a 19-12 success against Japan in Pool D setting up the pool decider against Fiji on day two.
While the men's still have an outstanding round of pool matches ahead, the women's will head into the quarterfinals on the second day of the USA Sevens. Canada and New Zealand go into the Cup quarter-finals unbeaten after some imposing performances. England failed to progress from the pool stage once again and will now play for the Challenge trophy.
Current series champions Australia also qualified for the Cup quarter-finals despite losing to New Zealand. Fiji lost to the hosts USA in their final pool match but managed to beat Spain and Ireland earlier. With the two wins, Fiji booked a quarter-final encounter against Australia, while Ireland will face USA on the final day.
CANADA v FRANCE
FIJI v AUSTRALIA
USA v IRELAND
NEW ZEALAND v RUSSIA
USA Sevens Men's | Results and Fixtures
USA Sevens Women's | Results and Fixtures
The new Mikuni World Stadium proved a fitting stage for the world's best women's sevens players to perform on and New Zealand, Australia, and Canada rose to the occasion to finish top of their respective pools at the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens.
Olympic champions Australia will now face France in the first Cup quarter-final on Sunday, before Sydney winners Canada tackle Russia, Fiji takes on USA and series leaders New Zealand meets England for a place in the last four.
In the three pool decides it was the higher ranked team that came out on top, but not without a real battle.
Canada once again emerged victorious in the North American rivalry with USA, captain Ghislaine Landry scoring twice – just as she did in their bronze medal victory in Las Vegas last month – to take her tally to 90 series tries. The sides had been separated by only two points at half-time before Canada broke clear with three unanswered tries to win 29-12 to top Pool C.
Australia then had their Fijian-born flyer Ellia Green to thank for a strong start against familiar opponents in the Pool B decider, scoring twice for a 12-0 half-time lead for the series champions. Fijiana, so impressive against Ireland and Brazil, couldn't find a way through until the final few minutes when tries by Miriama Naiobasali and captain Ana Maria Roqica had Australia hanging on for a 17-12 win to preserve their perfect record.
New Zealand had suffered a huge scare against France in their second match, but the Dubai and Las Vegas champions regrouped and finished the day with a 22-7 win over Russia to confirm top spot in Pool A, Portia Woodman crossing for two tries to take her total to 138 in series history.
Brazil missed out on a first Cup quarter-final appearance of the season on points difference and will instead face Ireland again, having beaten them 27-10 in their final Pool B match, in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals on Sunday. The other semi-final pits Spain against hosts Japan.
The action continues on Sunday with kick-off at 10:30 local time (GMT +9) with the Cup quarter-finals.
Kitakyushu 7s | Results Day 1
New Zealand increased their lead at the top of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series standings to 10 points after an enthralling 17-14 victory over Canada in the final of the inaugural HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens in Japan on Sunday.
The Black Ferns twice had to come from behind in the title decider and only hit the front when Michaela Blyde was worked over in the right corner with time up on the clock, sparking wild celebrations on the New Zealand bench.
In only their third meeting in a Cup final – and first since Atlanta in 2014 – it was Canada who went into the final arguably as favourites having enjoyed record wins over both Russia and Australia en route to the final, scoring 74 points and conceding none.
Canada thought they had opened the scoring through Jennifer Kish, but she lost control of the ball as she went over the line following a tackle from Blyde. However, it wasn't long before Hannah Darling raced away and, despite being tap-tackled by Portia Woodman, managed to touch down for a 7-0 lead.
A moment of magic from Niall Williams, where she scooped up a pass from Canada captain Ghislaine Landry and then raced away to score under the posts, ensured the teams went into half-time locked at 7-7 after Tyla Nathan-Wong's conversion.
Kish then edged Canada ahead once more, but only briefly as Woodman, who was named HSBC Player of the Final, raced the length of the pitch to score her seventh try of the tournament.
Nathan-Wong failed to add the conversion from out wide and so New Zealand had to score again if they were to win a third title of the season after their victories in Dubai and Las Vegas.
Fortunately for them, Kish fumbled the restart and the Black Ferns kept their composure before working the ball out for this season's top try-scorer Blyde to find a way over in the corner.
“It was close, Canada are an awesome team,” admitted New Zealand captain Sarah Goss. “The way the girls showed so much fight I am just really proud to have such an awesome group of girls around me. We train like that, we train when we’re down and know as long as there are minutes on the clock we know we have the X-factor to pull out winners like that.”
Coach Allan Bunting added: “We definitely saved the best until last in this tournament. We played with a lot of heart and character and you can't ask for much more, it was outstanding and I am really stoked for the girls and very proud. For us it was about playing longer and stronger, Canada are a really clinical team, they have been pretty consistent over the last few years so you have to play long and play well.
“I had no doubt, I knew the ladies were going to play right to the end so until that final whistle went there was a chance.”
The fifth and penultimate round of the 2016-17 series takes place in Langford, Canada, on 27-28 May.
Kitakyushu 7s | Results Day 2
HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series | Standings
New Zealand claimed a fourth successive title on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series – and sixth in total – after beating the Women's Sevens Eagles in the HSBC USA Women's Sevens final in Glendale, Colorado, on Sunday.
The Black Ferns Sevens have now won 33 consecutive matches, including the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens, after another dominant weekend in the opening round of the 2019 series at Infinity Park.
Official Press Release via World Rugby
The pools and match schedule have been announced for the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens, the opening round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2020.
Hosted at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, from 5-6 October, the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens will mark the start of the Olympic season for rugby sevens as the sport prepares to make its second appearance on the Olympic Games programme in Tokyo next summer.
Text, Pictures and Video via World Rugby
The tournament is the penultimate round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2019 with New Zealand sitting top of the standings with 72 points.
Hosts Canada, who are currently ranked second with 66 points after winning the Cup final in Kitakyushu last month, will be hoping for their first win on home soil this weekend.
Text and Photo: World Rugby
The 12 captains of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series convened on the picturesque coastline of the South of France ahead of the HSBC France Women's Sevens, taking place in Biarritz on 15-16 June.
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