SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – The 2015/2016 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series is proving to be the most competitive and unpredictable season in the tourney’s history. The 4th leg in Sydney was filled with brilliant pool play; with three teams going undefeated. The knockout stage led to a New Zealand win, which this season was a bit unexpected. By the end of this tournament there were 3 teams tied for first and 2 tied for fourth, it is tight… to say the least. Let’s review:
USA Finishes 7th:
The @Eagles7s had another disappointing tournament, losing the pool decider to finish second in their pool and then getting knocked out in the Plate semi-final. There are no easy games in the 7s series, however, the Eagles received a gift from the schedule-makers with their first game against Wales. After starting slowly and allowing Wales to be competitive, the USA went on to romp, 42-0. They switched it on and were able to do what they wanted to do, the majority of the game. The played with a ruthlessness many had been waiting to see.
Following that win, the USA came out guns blazing against Japan. They weren’t as ruthless as the Wales match, letting Japan back into the match – but won comfortably, 33-17. That win put the USA in a great position, topping the pool and progressing to the cup round. They needed to win their next match against England to top the pool, though. Mike Friday’s charges once again fought with loads of passion but were not as clinical as they needed to be and lost, 17-14.
Day 2 for the Eagles was filled with heartbreak. They took on New Zealand in the Cup quarterfinal game and didn’t show up as ready as they needed to be. Having defeated the All Black 7s side twice in Dubai, the Eagles should have shown up more confident and ready to play. However, this is a reinvigorated NZ7s side and the Kiwis showed up ready to play… and took the match to the Eagles. Before the Americans could get themselves together, the match was over. New Zealand won 24-7.
After that the Eagles were chasing the plate and needed to beat Kenya. After bolting to a 21-0 lead at the half, an unfathomable collapse followed, and Team USA lost a heart-breaker, 24-21. It was about as inexplicable a loss as they’ve had and ended their weekend on a sour note. It will be interesting to see how they respond.
Now to the winners…
The All Black 7s Magic:
Controversy seems to follow the New Zealand All Black 7s side everywhere they go. After winning the final in Wellington that was arguably marred by a poor performance of referee Matt O’Brien, there was more controversy in Sydney. In the match against Australia to decide the pool winner, New Zealand scored the game-tying try with 8 men on the field. World Rugby says they are looking into it and have no further comment. After the controversial match, the Kiwis went on to beat the USA , as previously mentioned, win a dogfight of a match against Fiji and then win the Cup at the death against host Australia – in a re-match from their pool game.
Fiji refuse to be discounted under the leadership of Englishman Ben Ryan. Despite not winning the last two tournaments, they have kept pace with the Kiwi’s by winning their pools and winning third in back-to-back tournaments. They went undefeated on Day 1, beat Kenya on day 2 then had the aforementioned tough loss to New Zealand and bounced back to defeat South Africa to finish fourth.
Argentina, have also come a long way. The went 2-1 on both days with their losses coming to first place sides Fiji and South Africa, respectively. They bounced back from that SA defeat to claim the Plate with an emphatic victory over Kenya… Canada once again had a poor start to the tournament on day 1, going winless, but managed to at least salvage their campaign and win the Bowl. Wales took the Shield as consolation for their perseverance after losing their first 4 games of the tournament.
Final standings were
Cup: New Zealand
The next leg will be in Las Vegas, USA in a few weeks time. Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament.
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