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The oldest of the nominees at 32 and the 2017 recipient of this prestigious award, Perry Baker was at his scintillating best in Las Vegas in March, scoring eight tries – six of them in the knockout stages – as USA tasted success on home soil for the first time. The Eagles flyer has always had electric pace and the ability to create something out of nothing, but now has the all-round game to go with his natural speed to make him even more of a lethal finisher. The crowd favourite scored 37 tries in seven events on the 2018 series, missing the finale in Europe due to injury before returning to help USA to sixth place at RWC Sevens in San Francisco.
The Dubai Sevens 2018 are done and dusted. For New Zealand's Sevens sides it was the perfect weekend as both, the men's and women's, start the new season in a winning fashion. But there is much more we can take away from the last few days. Here are five things that stood out.
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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.
It may have been the lowest scoring final in HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series history, but Canada's 7-5 victory over England in the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens final was a nail-biting encounter that was only settled with the final kick of the game at Mikuni World Stadium on Sunday.
Koroi’s score came with New Zealand and South Africa deadlocked at 21-21, with the All Blacks Sevens needing to win to make Sunday’s Cup quarter-finals in Cape Town.
Text, Pictureand Video: World Rugby
Fiji retained their title at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens and won their second tournament in succession on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 as a result of an emphatic weekend in Hamilton.
Four teams surged into the Cup quarter-finals with unbeaten records following a high-quality opening day of action at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton.
Text, Photos and Videos: World Rugby
New Zealand, winners in Cape Town and the hosts of this fourth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, are one of four unbeaten teams progressing into the Cup quarter-finals following an action-packed opening day in Hamilton.
They lead the way alongside South Africa, Kenya and Fiji as the series stops in Hamilton for the first time after the New Zealand event moved from Wellington where it was hosted since 2000.
The All Blacks Sevens will face England in the Cup quarter-finals with South Africa booking an encounter with Scotland. Kenya will meet Sydney champions Australia and the last Cup quarter-final will be between Fiji and Samoa from 12:36 local time (GMT +13) on Sunday.
Vilimoni Koroi was New Zealand's leading points scorer on day one with 24 and while he was pleased with the majority of their day, their focus remains sharp heading into day two.
“We didn’t get the result that we wanted last week so we’ve come into this week with a lot of detail about what we wanted to achieve,” he said. “It really showed in our first two games but Argentina really took it to the wire in that last game which really gave us a wake-up call for tomorrow.”
The Challenge Trophy quarter-finals will be Wales v Canada, Argentina v Russia, USA v Spain and Papua New Guinea v France.
New Zealand Sevens | Results Day 1
New Zealand Sevens | Fixtures Day 2
Fiji beat the defending HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions South Africa in a thrilling Cup final in Hamilton to secure their first tournament title of the 2018 season.
It marked their first Cup title since Hong Kong last April and Fiji were at their free-flowing best to secure the HSBC New Zealand Sevens title in front of an exhilarated crowd at the Waikato Stadium.
In the final Fiji had to come back from 17-5 down at half-time. Three of their four tries were scored by the HSBC Player of the Final Alasio Sovita Naduva with Eroni Sau delivering the fourth.
After the full-time whistle their head coach Gareth Baber was pleased with their final performance and the two days as a whole.
“We did struggle at times in the tournament and won some close games but in the final in the second half we decided we were going to play better that South Africa and we did,” he said.
“The team's character, belief and their love of their country came through and we knew we had the ability to score from anywhere. We had to believe in that and we got momentum in the tackle and in the contact areas.”
Australia claimed the bronze medal after beating hosts New Zealand 8-7 in dramatic fashion, captain James Stannard's penalty after the final siren proving the match-winner.
The Challenge Trophy winners were the USA after day two victories over Spain, Papua New Guinea and Argentina (31-12) in the final.
New Zealand Sevens | Results Day 2
World Sevens Series | Standings
New Zealand's record 10th appearance in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Cup final saw them end their title drought at the 7he Sevens Stadium, the 21-5 victory over USA giving the All Blacks Sevens their first title here since 2009.
New Zealand beat USA 21-5 to win the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Sydney and move top of the overall standings after four events.
New Zealand had led 12-0 through Joe Ravouvou and Andrew Knewstubb but Spain hit back, Ignacio Rodriguez-Guerra doing down in the corner before captain Francisco Hernandez put his side ahead at the break. Joan Losada’s try was cancelled out by Ravouvou and Sam Dickson, but after the hooter, Losada broke down the left wing and found Pol Pla on the inside to seal a famous victory.
It has been a while since Fiji lifted the trophy. The Olympic Champions won the last title at the Hong Kong 7s in April 2017. However, this weekend the Islanders bounced back with their trademark free-flowing style which won them so many medals.
A hard-fought comeback from 17-5 down at half-time against series leaders South Africa was required to claim the New Zealand Sevens title. Fiji’s outstanding player was Alasio Sovita Naduva who scored a hat-trick in the final. He deservedly claimed the HSBC Player of the Final honour afterwards.
Fiji moved into the third position, seven points behind New Zealand and 15 points behind current champions South Africa.
Many visitors and TV viewers might still remember the depressing pictures of last year’s New Zealand Sevens when the tournament took place in an almost empty Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Some might blame the organisers who apparently have been very harsh on implementing stricter rules to turn a beer festival into a family-friendly get-together. In theory, that wasn't a bad idea, but the balance wasn’t right, and a lot of fans stayed away.
Moving the tournament, 375 miles up north, to the slightly smaller Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, turned out to be a smart decisition. The event was sold out both days and fans were a lot happier about the atmosphere.
The competition for the World Sevens Series title turns out to be a race between the Southern Hemisphere teams. Currently, the top 5 are South Africa, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Argentina.
England, the best-placed team from the Northern Hemisphere are sitting in sixth position, with France being 10th. The Series has traditionally been dominated by teams from the south as there hasn’t been one single European winner since its introduction in ‘99.
England managed to finish second on four occasions, including last year, but this season all signs indicate that it's going to be a race between the Super Rugby nations plus the 7s specialists from Fiji.
Maybe it’s time for a Team GB at the series, although it isn’t the most popular idea, a British selection has shown a great performance at the Olympics.
Try-saving tackles are a wonderful thing, at least for the defending team. They are an act of heroism and often change the dynamic of the game. You see them often in 7s, however, what you don’t see often is a try-saver, followed by a turnover and a try, all by the same person.
Argentina's Luciano Gonzales managed to do this last weekend in Hamilton. What a lad!
View this post on Instagram Coast to Coast. @luchogonzalez.1 of @unionargentina is all heart in this incredible 200m try #NZSevens A post shared by World Rugby (@worldrugby) on Feb 2, 2018 at 6:03pm PST
Coast to Coast. @luchogonzalez.1 of @unionargentina is all heart in this incredible 200m try #NZSevens
A post shared by World Rugby (@worldrugby) on Feb 2, 2018 at 6:03pm PST
All pictures: World Rugby
Pictures & Videos via World Rugby
Hong Kong marks the seventh round of the 2018/2019 series and the 16 competing teams can look forward to perform in front of another sell-out crowd filling the Hong Kong Stadium throughout three days of thrilling rugby sevens action.
This weekend marks the half-way point of the 2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, with the 5th tournament played over the next three days in Las Vegas.
All Pictures: World Rugby
Sixteen captains lined up at the iconic Tūrangawaewae Marae, ahead of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens, which kicks off this weekend at the FMG Stadium in Hamilton.
After a Golden weekend for the Australian women’s and men’s teams in Sydney, the 16 male teams are back in action this weekend with the fourth leg of the World Sevens Series, at New Zealand’s North Island in the city of Hamilton.
Following years of decreasing ticket sales for the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series, the organisers went for a radical change and swapped locations, moving from Wellington’s Westpac Stadium to the slightly smaller Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Current figures indicate that the move pays off nicely for New Zealand’s 7s community. The two-day tournament is fully sold-out and Hamilton is overly excited to host this fantastic event. With the home team sitting just behind table leaders South Africa, the All Blacks Sevens could climb to the top and make it the perfect weekend.
The New Zealand Sevens takes place at the Waikato Stadium (Capacity 25,800) on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th of February.
The matches kick-off Saturday 11:00 local time (22:00 UK time) and Sunday at 11:00 local time (22:00 UK time).
For a full fixture list click here.
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 handy guide.
The Aussies have been phenomenal at their home tournament in Sydney a week ago. After a rather poor start in Dubai and Cape Town, Andy Friend’s team bounced back in style with a crashing 29-0 win over South Africa in the final.
Sitting now in the third position, the boys in Gold and Green should gain a lot of momentum from the Sydney weekend. Especially in the attack, they are exceptionally strong. With 499 points and 79 tries, no other team has scored so often this season.
1 more sleep til #Hamilton7s! Let's go #Aussie7s! pic.twitter.com/rBEQsdzfcs— AU 7s (@Aussie7s) February 2, 2018
1 more sleep til #Hamilton7s! Let's go #Aussie7s! pic.twitter.com/rBEQsdzfcs
On the way to the final, Australia beat their old rivals New Zealand in the Cup Quarter-Finals. The Kiwis finished the weekend in 5th position, probably not the result they hoped for after the convinving tournament win in Cape Town towards the end of last year. However, New Zealand is a lot stronger this season and the prospect of claiming the top spot in the table will be inspirational.
There is a strong likelihood that New Zealand will face the Blitzboks at some point on Sunday. South Africa remains a consistent threat and with a tournament win, a third place and a runner-up performance this season, they’ve shown that they are capable to beat everyone.
Argentina is playing a very solid season so far and are just behind Australia in the table. In Cape Town, they even made it to the final but lost to a magnificent All Blacks Sevens team.
One of the reasons for Argentinas strong performance is Franco Sabato. The 28-year old has already scored 60 points this season, six tries last weekend, and brings plenty of experience to the party. He has 186 matches under his belt. World Rugby Sevens says he is “a frightening prospect for any defence, Franco Sabato has electrifying pace. His fast feet open up chances from all over the park.”
Saturday 3rd February
(All times are local times - GMT plus 13 hours)
Kenya v Samoa - 11.00
USA v Canada - 11.22
England v Russia - 11.44
South Africa v Papua New Guinea - 12.06
Fiji v Wales - 12.36
Australia v Spain - 12.58
New Zealand France - 13.20
Argentina v Scotland - 13.42
Kenya v Canada - 14.26
USA v Samoa - 14.48
England v Papua New Guinea - 15.10
South Africa v Russia - 15.32
Fiji v Spain - 16.02
Australia v Wales - 16.24
New Zealand v Scotland - 16.46
Argentina v France - 17.08
Samoa v Canada - 18.00
USA v Kenya - 18.22
Russia v Papua New Guinea - 18.44
South Africa v England - 19.06
Wales v Spain - 19.28
Australia v Fiji - 19.50
France v Scotland - 20.12
Argentina v New Zealand - 20.34
New Zealand Sevens | Full Fixture List
World Sevens Series | Standings
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