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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.
Fiji came out on top against South Africa for the second time in eight days, although this time their prize was not ninth place but a first HSBC Sydney Sevens title.
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.
The All Blacks Sevens extended their record as the most successful team on home soil in the history of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a 27-5 defeat of France in the HSBC New Zealand Sevens Cup final.
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.
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black's try saw New Zealand come from behind to beat South Africa 7-5 in the HSBC Cape Town Sevens 2019 final on Sunday and claim their 11th Cup title in the country in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series history.
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
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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.
Pictures and Videos: World Rugby
The first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament of the year will take place in Hamilton, New Zealand on 25-26 January.
The captains of the 28 participating men’s and women’s teams came together at the iconic Hamilton Gardens on Wednesday to launch this historic event which will see 12 international women’s teams play their first ever world series event in New Zealand.
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.
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