Text, Picture and Video: World Rugby
Fiji are the new leaders of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and will take a two-point lead over USA to the final event in Paris.
It all came down to the final match at Twickenham after the Americans sealed third place at the #London7s, with Fiji knowing defeat would leave their rivals still at the summit with one round to go. If there were any nerves, they certainly were not apparent in the Cup final as Fiji romped to a 43-7 success.
Has the weather got you thinking about summer? Make your bank holiday weekend plans with the HSBC London Sevens, at Twickenham on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May.
(Pictures & Text via World Rugby)
Hosts England and New Zealand are unbeaten after a thrilling day of action on the penultimate day of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London.
The rain and sun traded places on day one in Twickenham as the 16 teams battled for position at the last tournament of the 2016-17 world series.
Sunday's Cup quarter-finals will see USA play Australia, New Zealand face Scotland, England meet South Africa and Argentina take on Canada. Olympic gold medallists Fiji, who last failed to reach the Cup back at Las Vegas in 2014, find themselves in the Challenge Trophy quarter-finals against Russia and out of touch of England in the battle for second place in the overall standings.
Japan will not be one of the 15 core teams on the world series next year after they were relegated following a heavy 61-5 defeat to Fiji in the Pool stages.
Meanwhile, England's Dan Norton climbed up the DHL Impact Player standings in London and is hot on the heels of Wales playmaker Sam Cross, who is just 10 points ahead overall in the Performance Tracker.
Wales showed their class during their opening Pool A match against USA with tries from Ethan Davies and Owen Jenkins keeping them on a par with the Americans at half time. A tremendous try-saving tackle from Luke Morgan on Martin Iosefo in the second half stopped USA's momentum and set Wales on course for an impressive 28-12 victory.
New series champions South Africa had a slow start in Paris last week, losing to Scotland, and threatened to repeat that feat in London as they limped to a less than impressive 12-10 win over a physical Kenya side, who challenged them from the off.
USA made up for their earlier loss with a 47-0 demolition of Kenya in their second match of the day, but the highlight of the pool was undoubtedly the battle of South Africa and Wales, which went down to the wire on the Twickenham turf. Chasing the game at 12-5, the crowd erupted as Wales broke down the pitch following a James Benjamin interception allowing Owen Jenkins to cross in the final minute. However, Billy McBryde couldn’t convert and the Blitzboks escaped with a 12-10 victory.
The hard work put in by the Welsh was undone by Kenya, who eclipsed Gareth William's side with an impressive 28-14 win, ending Welsh hopes of a quarter-final appearance.
South Africa tore into USA with renewed intensity in their last pool match of the day, but it was Stephen Tomasin who opened the scoring for Mike Friday’s team before a cheeky Ruhan Nel chip and chase try was cancelled out by Ben Pinkleman. The two teams were well matched and Siviwe Soyizwape used his power to put the sides level until Perry Baker put on the jet shoes against Rosko Specman in the second half and crossed in the corner. Andrew Durutalo’s handoff and try ended the match, leaving it 24-12 to USA.
After hosting the ninth round of the series last weekend in Paris, France featured five newcomers in the team for London and their inexperience showed as they lost 35-7 to Argentina on Saturday morning.
Scotland, on a high from their appearance in the final last weekend, found it tough against a plucky Russian side and the 21-7 scoreline flattered captain Scott Riddell’s side, but they soon found their rhythm later in the day as tries from Mark Robertson, James Fleming, George Horne and Joseva Nayacavou helped them to a 26-19 win against Argentina.
France picked up the pace after their initial pool defeat; they were run close before beating Russia, 26-20, but surprised Scotland later in the day with a Pierre Popelin try making the difference as the French claimed victory, 17-12.
Later, Argentina’s 26-19 win over Russia was enough to ensure them passage to the quarter-finals where they'll meet Canada on day two.
Fiji barely fired a shot in Paris last weekend, bowing out at the quarter-final stages, and they didn’t get off to a strong start in London, losing to Canada in the first game of the day as Canadian legend John Moonlight crashed over for his 100th career try in the last minute, to claim the win 22-19.
Fiji did however get their tournament back on track but at the expense of Japan. They were victims of the biggest loss of the series as the Fijians ran in nine tries to win 61-5, a loss that was cruelly compounded as Japan were officially relegated as a result.
A recent School of Sevens featured the importance of decision making on the pitch and after their clash with New Zealand, Canada will rue a last-minute decision by Harry Jones not to pass infield, which would have resulted in a certain try. As it was, the All Black Sevens walked away with a 19-14 victory and set them on course for the quarters.
The clash of New Zealand and Fiji is always interesting in London, and this match lived up to the hype. The game was on a knife-edge when New Zealand’s Lewis Ormond intercepted a loose pass and sprinted over to score. Fiji fought back with a classy try from Jerry Tuwai but sub Jesse Houston closed the game out, ensuring Fiji would not make the Cup quarters.
Canada ensured their quarter-final position with a 28-14 win against Japan and will meet Argentina in the quarters on Sunday.
Despite a strong performance in Paris where they went unbeaten on day one, Samoa struggled in the first game of the day as Australia won easily, 34-5. A rapturous round of applause greeted England and Spain as tries from Dan Bibby, Ruaridh McConnochie, Ollie Lynsey-Hague and Phil Burgess ensured an easy 28-7 win for the host side.
Since winning a place on next season's series in Hong Kong, Spain will have learned a lot but they’ll need to work hard on defence if they’re to compete, as Samoa scored six tries to beat the Spanish, 40-7.
Dan Norton is chasing USA’s Perry Baker for the series top try scorer and he narrowed the lead by scoring two against an Australian side that were much improved since Paris. Australia dominated for much of the first half but a yellow card to Boyd Killingworth swung the momentum in favour of the home side. Two tries for Norton made the difference, the last coming with extra panache for his home fans.
After Australia glided past Spain, 45-7, England and Samoa served up a classic that went down to the wire. With England trailing 17-19, Simon Amor's side kept their composure to break down the tough Pacific defence with Alex Davis crashing over for the winning try to ensure a quarter-final with the series champions.
The action resumes at 09.30 (GMT) on Sunday in Twickenham, with the first quarter-final kicking off just before 11.00.
Scotland defeated England in a scintillating HSBC London Sevens final on Sunday as South Africa were officially crowned series champions.
Captain Scott Riddell scored the winner as they beat the auld enemy 12-5 to raise the trophy in London for the second year in a row. Callum McCrea's men earlier made history by becoming the first Scottish team to beat a New Zealand team in their history.
Speaking afterwards, the head coach said: "I’m very, very pleased with the effort from the boys. We’ve learned from a poor final against South Africa last week (in Paris). This week we dusted ourselves off and came back. It was a different mindset as holders."
Canada claimed bronze after beating USA 22-19, and the Challenge Trophy was won by Fiji, who beat Wales, 26-14. England finished second in the series standings with the Olympic Games Champions Fiji finishing third overall this season.
With one of the most sensational tries scored in a rugby sevens final this season, Dan Norton opened the scoring a physical, start to the match that saw Ollie Lyndsey Hague taken off early. His replacement, Richard De Carpentier was denied a follow-up effort as the two sides went at each other in an energy-sapping encounter, that saw the hosts lead 7-0 at half-time.
Hugh Blake evened it up after the break, capitalising on a loose ball but the winner came after a Joe Nayacavou offload went to HSBC Player of the final Mark Robertson whose pass put Scott Riddell over in the corner. England pressed in the closing minutes but the Scottish defence held firm.
The winning captain said afterwards: “I’m absolutely elated. This sport is something that just grips you. It’s so special and I’m so proud of the boys. I’m lost for words. We were under the pump and we just keep fighting and we took our chances. You couldn’t write a script like that.”
The Bagpipes were in full cry as Scotland ran out to play in their second semi-final in as many weeks. This time the opposition was Perry Baker and his USA colleagues and an entertaining spectacle was in store. A tense first half saw a try-saving tackle from Mark Robertson on Ben Pinkleman release the ball for last year’s final hero, Dougie Fife, to break clear and score under the posts. But wonder winger Baker responded as he broke away, side-stepped a defender and went under the posts to leave it 7-7 at half time.
USA thought they had hit back in the second half as Folau Niua crossed the line in the corner, but the TMO replay showed that he knocked on. Scotland seized on the momentum and Glenn Bryce, who was at the forefront of the Scottish attack all weekend, touched down in the corner. The Scots lead lasted less than two minutes until Baker made it look so easy as he jogged in under the posts.
At 14-14, the game was most certainly on. The Scots, well used to winning at the death, had to do it again and Nayacavou stepped up to crash in underneath the posts and send the crowd into raptures.
England and Canada followed that and the hosts were clearly up for the challenge, with dream-teamer Ollie Lyndsey-Hague executing a beautiful goose-step to score under the sticks early on. But the men in red were up for the challenge and hard work from Justin Douglas paid off as Adam Zaruba equalised. But back came England with Lyndsey-Hague again scoring after nice play by Norton, making it 14-5 at the break. The second half was close until Norton, sensational all weekend, evaded a Douglas challenge to dot down in the corner and Lyndsey-Hague’s hat-trick in the same corner guaranteed the win, 24-5; the auld enemy set to clash in the final.
He makes it look so easy. The first quarter-final of the day was barely two minutes old when the tournament and series top try scorer Perry Baker got the ball in his hands, and with a few yards of space, he executed brilliantly as he’s done so many times in a USA jersey. Minutes later, Maka Unufe got the ball in space and scored out wide before he made a classy break to dot down under the posts. Australia’s Alex Gibbon touched down before the break to leave it 19-7 at half time.
After the pause, Baker added to his tally before completing his hat-trick in style. A try from Simon Kennewell was merely a consolation and USA marched on to the semis in style, 31-14.
Scotland took on a New Zealand side that were unbeaten on day one and were chasing shadows for Sam Dickson’s opening try, as they struggled in the London summer sun. Fa’asiu Fuatai made their task more difficult before Andrew Knewstubb crashed over to make it 21-0 to the All Black Sevens at the break.
A different Scotland side ran out for the second half, with Dougie Fife scoring two tries to start the fightback. With 40 seconds to go, a try from Jamie Farndale put the Scots within four before an issue over player numbers on the pitch gave Scotland a penalty. Roared on by the London crowd, the Scots kept their composure and went through the phases to put Farndale over for his second and celebrations ensued on the side-line, as Scotland beat New Zealand for the first time in rugby history.
After such an exciting match, England Rugby HQs was buzzing as the home side took the field against South Africa, and fans were soon on their feet again as Dan Norton broke away for yet another try at Twickenham. A tight encounter saw the Blitzboks' Chris Dry cross to make it one try apiece at the break. Werner Kok silenced the Twickenham faithful after the resumption of play with a well-worked try, but went from hero to villain minutes later as he was sin-binned for a neck roll and James Rodwell levelled after good phase-play from the resulting penalty.
It came down to the last play – just to add to the excitement of the day – and who else but Norton? The TMO was asked to verify but there was no doubt that Norton added to his total and England were through at the expense of the series champions.
The last quarter-final was more straight forward as an impressive Canadian side took on Argentina. The Singapore champions took the game to the South Americans and two tries from Nathan Hiryama and one from Mike Fuailefau and Justin Douglas put the game beyond reach. A try from Julian Dominguez was not enough and Canada went through to a semi-final with the hosts.
USA, Fiji and South Africa recorded three wins from three games on day one of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London on Saturday. For the former two, those results guaranteed them their place in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where they will be joined by a New Zealand outfit who earned two victories at Twickenham.
All 16 teams have arrived in London as sides get set for the last round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this coming weekend.
Twickenham plays host to the 10th round of the series, just days after South Africa wrapped up the competition with a win in Paris.
Since rugby sevens made its debut at the Olympic Games last year, the world series has received a massive boost with a reach of more than 120 million people this season on social media channels, resulting in a massive 75 million video views – up 25 per cent on the previous season.
Participation levels in rugby across the globe are now at an all-time high of 8.5 million people (30 percent of which are women and girls) while the sport also benefits from an estimated 300 million fans worldwide. The successful debut of the rugby sevens at the Olympics piqued the interest of 16.8m new fans who have now been served up the most exhilarating sevens series to-date.
The 2016-17 season has also seen the game extend to more than 200 countries and regions, with traffic to the worldrugby.org Japanese language site increased by more than 50 percent. Series attendances are also up on last year after nine rounds as sevens continue to inspire fans of all ages across the globe.
South Africa may have wrapped up the series in Paris but there is still lots to play for in Twickenham, not least for Scotland who won in London last year and were beaten in the final by South Africa on Sunday.
Captain Scott Riddell said: “I think we had a collective belief among the boys (in Paris last weekend). There’s great experience in that squad now. We weren’t chasing results at the weekend and that put us in the ascendancy.
“Last year in London (where Scotland claimed their first ever sevens tournament win) was a great day. It was incredible to be involved with. It would be great to put ourselves in that position again this weekend but we’re not getting carried away and focusing on day one at the moment. In this sport you can’t look too far ahead so we need to look at our next game.”
South Africa captain Phillip Snyman said that, despite the series win, his side are very focused on winning yet another tournament this season.
“It was a relief to win the series and it’s good not to have to go into the last tournament needing a win. We set high standards for ourselves and hopefully, we can be successful and lift the London Cup trophy as well."
After nine rounds of the series, England skipper Tom Mitchell is looking forward to a tournament on home soil: “The support we’ve had throughout the whole season has been phenomenal, but finishing the series in front of a home crowd at Twickenham means so much to the entire squad. The HSBC London Sevens is always a unique and exciting tournament which brings a real festival atmosphere to Twickenham and we can’t wait to be a part of it.”
USA’s Folau Niua will play in his 50th series tournament this weekend while his team-mate Perry Baker will be hoping to secure top try scorer for the series when it’s announced on Sunday evening in London. Baker, who has notched up 49 tries, currently leads England's Dan Norton by four in the chase for top try scorer.
Meanwhile, the nominations for the World Rugby Sevens Rookie of the Year have been announced ahead of the last round of the series.
Argentina’s Matias Osadczuk, Fiji’s Kalione Nasoko and New Zealand’s Vilimoni Koroi all impressed in their debut year and the winner will be announced at the awards ceremony that follows the tournament on Sunday evening in Twickenham.
When and Where?
The London 7s takes place at the Twickenham Stadium, on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th of May. The matches kick-off Saturday and Sunday at 09:30 local time. The final is scheduled for 17:57 local time on Sunday.
Where Can I See It?
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.
SOUTH AFRICA, USA, WALES, KENYA
SCOTLAND, FRANCE, ARGENTINA, RUSSIA 7
NEW ZEALAND, FIJI, CANADA, JAPAN
ENGLAND, SAMOA, AUSTRALIA, SPAIN
Full Fixture List
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