PARIS, FRANCE – The 2015/2016 HSBC Sevens World Series continues to be filled with firsts. Once again, we had a team win a leg that hadn’t won one all year. Samoa was the winner of the 9th leg in Paris and it was their first win of a leg in years. On top of that, there were other surprises and upsets, as favorites didn’t play up to expectations and underdogs exceeded theirs. Unfortunately for USA fans, @Eagles7s put forth their worst performance all season. Overall, Fiji all but secured their second consecutive Series win, despite Samoa taking Paris.
USA Finishes 11th:
The Eagles embarrassed themselves in Paris. If Singapore was bad, Paris was worse. Team USA was poor on Day 1 and to be honest, they were poor on day 2, as they finished with a Bowl semi-final loss. They barely got off the mark in their opening match against Argentina. The Argies started out like a house on fire, coming out with more intensity and focus. The USA had no answers for the Puma 7s as they were shut out. The final score was 36-0.
Following that loss, the USA was next asked to line-up against France. The Eagles were the underdogs going into the match as France were the home side and had come off a very good tournament in Singapore. France were also coming off a thrashing of Canada in their first game. The USA scored first and looked to be making a game of it. However, it was not to be as France scored 4 straight tries, converting two. The USA managed to score the final try of the match as a small consolation as France won, 24-12. This meant that the USA were unable to qualify for the Cup playoffs and were headed toward the Bowl. The Americans did show some fight in their final pool game but that may have been easy. Their pool game was up against their longtime foe and border rival Canada. The Eagles dropped the hammer and thoroughly smashed the Canadians as they won, 33-12.
Day 2 for the Eagles was as disappointing as day 1. They took on Portugal in the Bowl quarterfinal game and they played with more intensity. That would be important because the Portuguese were up for the battle and fought tooth and nail. It wasn’t easy but the USA won, 19-17 courtesy of a missed conversion. The USA got a chance to follow up that tough win with another difficult match up against Scotland. This time the USA would be the side that left heartbroken. After a tight match that went back and forth, the USA scored at the death to pull with in two. Unfortunately, the placement made the conversion kick harder and the conversion failed, so the Eagles fell short 14-12, ending their Paris adventure.
I believe in the genius that is Head Coach Mike Friday. However, with no chance of winning the series, he appears to have started looking at guys that can make the roster Rio, since 5 or so places are still up for grabs. I am not sure it is the right move. I am also worried that guys that have trained well at the Olympic training center and are being given a shot to deliver on the big stage, just aren’t good enough to get it done. I might be completely wrong and it might be something totally different but either way what we have seen from the Eagles 7s in the last two tournaments is just not good enough. In fact, it’s flat out unacceptable.
Those Surprising Samoans:
The Samoa 7s program, like their 15s program, has been suffering from a lack of proper organization and leadership of the Samoan Rugby Union. Despite that, the program has been shown great resolve, led by the players. In Singapore, they upset the All Black 7s to win the Plate, this time they wanted more. After coming in second in pool play behind Fiji, the Samoans upset South Africa, were fortunate to get by Argentina and made it to the final against Fiji. After going down 26-7, the Samoans scored 22 unanswered points to win the Cup. Their first cup win since 2012 and they did it by beating their Pacific island rivals.
Fiji remains first in the overall standings and short of a massive collapse will win the series this year. They coasted in every match except the Cup quarterfinal against Australia. They appeared set to do the same in the final but inexplicably they blew a huge lead. On the way to the final, Fiji made light work of France in the cup semi-final. The French dusted themselves off after that lose and bounced back to defeat Argentina and win third.
New Zealand and South Africa are unable to shake each other. They seem to run into each other in every tournament at some stage of the Cup playoffs. This time they ran into each other in the Plate semi-finals and the South Africans emerged victorious which seems consistent with how the last few match-ups between the two sides. The Saffas went on to defeat the Australians to win the Plate final. Scotland were unfortunately in the same pool as Samoa and Fiji so it was no surprise the ended up in the Bowl playoffs. As they did in Singapore, they turned it on and beat all comers in the Bowl playoffs including arch-rivals England in the final to win the Bowl. In the Shield final, Portugal were able to end their Parisian rendezvous on a good note as they defeated Wales and leave with some hardware.
Final standings were
Plate: South Africa
The next leg will be in London. Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament.
That is it for now. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, James Harrington, Jake Frechette, Scheenagh Harrington, Ronan Nelson and Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.
P.s… A Belated Happy Birthday to the Series’ All-Time Leading Scorer, Ben Gollings. Here’s one of our favorite RWU interviews, with good bloke Ben: