Paris Sevens 2019: Fiji steal the show, BlitzBoks to face Samoa
The BlitzBoks will play Samoa in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Paris Sevens after topping Pool B on the opening day.
South Africa beat Wales 22-7 and Kenya 29-12 in their first two fixtures of the day. They finished the day with a 19-17 win over Australia.
But the day belonged to title-favourites Fiji who still had to play their final pool game of the day at the time of writing.
Fiji, who lead the World Series Sevens rankings by just two points, put on quite a show on the opening day. They beat England 52-14 and Argentina 40-26, dazzling with the speed, power, skills and defence that’s come to define their style of play. To make sure their message to the USA – they’re not here to fluff another title like they did in 2018 – landed loud and clear, Fiji finished the day by beating Ireland 40-5.
Fiji. Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/vV6vedmYyq
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) June 1, 2019
The day delivered some upsets, too. France were beaten 14-17 by Japan while England, already thrashed by Fiji, also suffered a defeat at the hands of Ireland, going down 27-14. For a consecutive week, England failed to make to the quarterfinals – a far cry from the magic of the 2016 Olympics.
But the stage is set for an exhilarating finale to the World Rugby Sevens Series on Sunday. Last weekend in London, Fiji overtook the USA in the world series standings but the margin between the duo sits at just two points. both sides booked their places in the quarterfinals of the Paris Sevens and it could all come down to the wire.
Paris Sevens: Pool summaries
Fiji continued where they left off in London. First up, against a less experienced English side, they hit the 40-point mark with nearly four minutes left on the clock. James Rodwell’s first ever try in Paris, in his final professional tournament, provided a positive moment for England before Fiji finished with eight tries scored by eight different try-scorers.
After that 52-14 victory, a 40-26 result against Argentina followed – although it wasn’t quite as comfortable as the scoreline suggests. Just seven points separated the sides going into the final seconds and Los Pumas Sevens were pressing hard. However, a final spill of the ball resulted in Apenisa Cakaubalavu racing away to secure victory for Fiji.
Gareth Baber’s outfit then finished the day on a high note. They over-powered Ireland by 40-5 with Aminiasi Tuimaba capping his day’s work with a hat-trick and Alasio Naduva scoring a brace. Argentina also ended there day on the right note too due to their five-try 31-19 stormer against England and that secured their own place in the Cup quarter-finals.
South Africa’s trio of victories arrived as they notched up a total of 70 points and duly became the only team to top their pool after day one at every event this series.
Behind them an intriguing contest unfolded because of Australia’s 19-19 draw against Kenya and their loss to Wales by 24-7. That left Australia needing to beat the BlitzBoks to progress into the last-eight, something that they couldn’t do despite pushing them hard in their 19-17 contest.
Kenya and Wales came into the weekend with the aim of securing their core team status for next season and that produced electric rugby from them both with Joe Goodchild and Johnstone Olindi particularly shining.
The clash between the two, who went into the weekend 13th and 14th in the standings, was an intense one. Wales’ electric start gave them a 14-0 advantage before they were pulled back to 14 points apiece with five minutes to play. Nelson Oyoo’s double sent Kenya’s fans wild but Wales responded. At 26-21 and with 50 seconds to play, Wales kicked-off but Olindi soared into high into the air to secure the ball. He also helped to secure victory, a place in the Cup quarter-finals and the side’s core status for 2020.
The USA showed their outstanding combination of power and pace to charge out of Pool C without a second glance and were able to overcome a significant injury to a key man.
The side’s opening match was against Spain, a team that they held a ten-game winning streak over, and Friday’s men dominated to effortlessly triumph 31-7. Carlin Isles’ brace helped him match the 49 tries that he accumulated on the world series last year and he reached the half-century point against Samoa.
The USA Eagles Sevens had to take time to re-group in that game though, after a nasty tournament-ending leg injury to Folau Niua. Following such a difficult moment, the leadership of Madison Hughes shone through as he scored a calming try and they then surged out to a 33-14 victory. The outfit’s clean-sweep arrived through overcoming a resilient charge from Canada but they had enough nous to deliver the 26-12 result.
The duel for the second Cup quarter-final qualification spot saw Samoa and Spain approach their final match of the day with a win apiece. Tomasi Alosio was instrumental in a positive first seven minutes for Samoa as they outscored their opponents by three tries to one. After the break, the side who won the Challenge Trophy in London last weekend pressed on for a 19-point, 31-12 victory.
The drama pool. It all started with New Zealand being given a scare by Scotland.
Scotland hadn’t beaten their opponents in 46 attempts but held a 12-7 advantage at the start of the second half. The All Blacks Sevens held their nerve and after Jona Nareki cut through, an Andrew Knewstubb conversion broke Scottish hearts.
France then suffered heartbreak of their own as Japan stunned them. Chihito Matsui, Katsuyuki Sakai and Naoki Motomura all crossed to help them into a 17-7 advantage. And, although Jean Pascal Barraque’s final try made for a tense finish, Kensuke Iwabuchi’s men held on for a head-turning 17-14 victory.
Japan put on a bold showing against New Zealand too, leading 14-12 at half-time before the All Blacks Sevens edged it in the second half and a single-point 22-21 loss to Scotland was a big blow in their bid to retain core status next season.
After the earlier matches, including France’s 28-12 triumph over Scotland, Les Bleus met New Zealand to end the day’s proceedings and despite having the crowd behind them, they couldn’t overpower their opponents and had to settle for second place in the pool.
Paris Sevens 2019: All results from day one
Canada 7s 19-21 Samoa 7s
USA 7s 31-7 Spain 7s
South Africa 7s 22-7 Wales 7s
Australia 7s 19-19 Kenya 7s
Ireland 7s 7-22 Argentina 7s
Fiji 7s 52-41 England 7s
New Zealand 7s 14-12 Scotland 7s
France 7s 14-17 Japan 7s
Canada 7s 19-24 Spain 7s
USA 7s 33-14 Samoa 7s
South Africa 7s 29-12 Kenya 7s
Australia 7s 7-24 Wales 7s
Ireland 7s 27-14 England 7s
Fiji 7s 40-26 Argentina 7s
New Zealand 7s 31-14 Japan 7s
France 7s 28-12 Scotland 7s
Samoa 7s 31-12 Spain 7s
USA 7s 26-12 Canada 7s
Wales 7s 21-26 Kenya 7s
Australia 7s 17-19 South Africa 7s
Argentina 7s 31-19 England 7s
Fiji 7s 40-5 Ireland 7s
Scotland 7s 22-21 Japan 7s
France 7s 10-17 New Zealand 7s
Paris Sevens 2019: Quarterfinals
Kick off time is SAST.
11:28 Fiji vs France
11:50 USA v Kenya
12:12 New Zealand vs Argentina
12:35 South Africa v Samoa