LONDON, ENGLAND – From an American perspective, the London 7s was fantastic, though not perfect. For the rest of the world it was a reminder that sometimes our coaches and their old sayings can ring true. Any good coach tells their players to never underestimate or overestimate the competition. “Don’t underestimate this team, because anything can happen after kickoff” or “You don’t have to be the best team in the world, just the best team on the field on that day.” Cliches yes but they are a great way to sum up the action.
The Eagle Men and Women 7s sides had very good tournaments. The women had a very good tournament that may have gotten lost in the success of the men, which we will get too later. The USA was fortunate enough to start the tournament against China which meant they were able to get a dominate 40-7 win, without shifting out of third gear. In their second match against Fiji the USA had to put in a lot more effort in than against China but they still scratched out a 24-19 victory. In their final pool match, the USA fought to a standstill against eventual tournament winners, Australia. A very encouraging sign of just how close the Eagles are to being one of the best in the world. The USA was lined up in the cup quarterfinal against France and they once again showed their resolve and won 19-12. So it was time for a the semi-final match against America’s old rival, Canada. In as close to a knock’em down, drag’em out match as you will see in 7s, Canada won 17-14. The loss moved the USA into the third place game where they surprising faced a New Zealand side that was upset by Australia. It looked like the USA was going to give New Zealand a second straight loss. However, at the death, seconds before the final whistle New Zealand turned a 19-17 USA lead into a 24-19 win. It was a brutal loss for the USA but to tie the eventual winners, barely lose to the Canada and the best team on the circuit New Zealand means that they are a dog’s breath from being one of the premier teams in the series.
The USA men looked and played like a team possessed. They had a great first day as they took down all comers. They weren’t at their sharpest in their first game against France but they found the will to win against a tough side 29-19. Surprisingly, That would be the closest margin of victory all tournament for the Eagles. They only got better from this point. They faced a very feisty Portugal but also put them to the sword, 28-12. We discussed making a strong closing statement in our tournament preview and the USA did that. With their two wins, both the USA and South Africa had qualified for the Cup playoffs. However, the team that finished first would be in the section of the bracket featuring England, New Zealand and Canada. The team that finished second would have Scotland, Fiji, and Australia. Conspiracy theorists say South Africa wanted to take on Fiji and knock them out to try and win the cup and the series. However, that would take away from the performance of the USA and the statement they made by defeating a top four team. The USA won comfortably 21-12 against the Blitzbokke. As the Rugby gods would have it the USA’s cup quarterfinal was up against the old foe, Canada. Canada beat the USA in Glasgow, so revenge was on the menu for the day and the USA served it up pipping hot to Canada, 29-10. The win avenged the women and made the score 1-1 between the neighborly rivals, the NACRA Qualifers in June for Rio will be the rematch, see you all in Cary, North Carolina. Back to focusing on London, because now came the big challenge of taking down England in front of their fans. If it was a big challenge, The USA didn’t appear to look bothered by it as they romped to a 43-12 win. The USA was now in the final against Australia. The USA was not afraid of Australia as they had beaten them before, most recently in Glasgow. After allowing Australia on the board first the USA went on to win with ease 45-22. Your Mens London 7s Cup winners are the USA Eagles!! In addition to all of that, USA Captain Madison Hughes was named tournament MVP. Hughes along with Danny Barrett made the tournament dream team and veteran Zach Test, despite missing London due to injury made the Sevens World Series Dream Team.
Lovely London 7s:
The Women’s World Series had showed some potential for upsets but never a major upset. It was all fairly predictable but the wheels came off that bus this weekend. New Zealand suffered their first ever loss in pool play at the hands of Spain. They then lost for the first time in the knockout round against Australia. Those defeats changed the complexion of the tournaments.
In London, the fact that the Kiwis became fallible opened up the tournament to everyone and for the first time and the script seemed to unravel from that point forth.
Australia started the tournament well and came second in their group. After that they shut out Spain, they dominated the series leading Kiwis and then won a classic final against Canada. We already talked about the thriller between the USA and New Zealand. The Kiwis were 30 seconds from having a second straight loss. They hadn’t even lost twice all season and would have had 3 losses in this one tournament but they avoided it and won third. England bounced back from a tough loss in the Cup quarterfinal to New Zealand. causing them to fall into the Plate bracket, which they won against France. Fiji continued to show that they are cut above the bottom 4 sides but not yet ready for the top 8 as they cruised to a Bowl victory against China.
Final standings were
Third: New Zealand
The Mens series is done and the winner of the 2014/15 HSBC 7s World Series are Fiji. They won more tournaments than anyone else and were just in another class for most of the series. We know USA won the cup but Fiji won third place after winning their pool then winning the series final/London quarter-final against South Africa. With South Africa the second seed, it essentially went that the winner of that match would win the series. The Fijians dug deep and managed to win in a tough physical match. After that they eased on the gas and lost to Australia before they bounced back against England to win third place. New Zealand was not in the final because they lost the cup quarterfinal against England. New Zealand bounced back to defeat South Africa to win the the Plate.
Kenya continued to show they are moving forward once again as they won the Plate. They bounced back from a slow start and got hot when they needed to in the knockout phase. Kenya’s 7s legend Collins Injera scored his 200th try on the circuit. He will likely break the Series record next season as long as he plays. Japan has been relegated from Core status for next season. However, they showed great pride by closing out with hardware and winning the Shield against France.
Final standings will be
Plate: New Zealand
The Men’s series is done but we still have the final leg of the Womens Series, Amsterdam, coming up. Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.