PARIS, FRANCE – The 2016/2017 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series is unofficially over. The Blitzbokke of South Africa, currently hold an insurmountable lead – so they are this year’s champions. While the Blitzbokke were busy officially conquering the world, the USA played well and fought to finish fifth.
USA Finishes 5th:
The @Eagles7s had a very good tournament. They made the cup playoffs for the 6th straight tournament. In the process they locked up the 5th place spot in the standings for the season. The Americans started by holding of a ferocious comeback by Argentina. In securing the win, they showed their ability to be relentless in offense & defense and most importantly, they showed mental fortitude. These attributes were on display as the USA traded scores with Argies in the first half. In the second half the USA took the lead 26-12 and then had to hang on as Argentina scored a try then pushed for the match-winner but the USA defense bent but didn’t break as they won 26-19.
Following that win, Mike Friday’s squad were up against Wales. The Welsh have a history of being consistently inconsistent. The are as likely to win a tournament as they are to finish in the 12th. They Eagles were in rare form, as they initially allowed Wales to score first and trade tries before they dropped the hammer and put the match beyond doubt in the second half. The Eagles attack lead them to a dominating victory of 38-14 and booked a place in the Cup quarterfinals.
Next, the USA had to take on the formidable All Black 7s of New Zealand. Two tries by Eagles star player Perry Baker were not enough to help the USA succeed. The All Blacks deprived the USA of the ball and with timely defensive turnovers in all forms, a penalty, successful poach and stingy defense, the All Blacks were able to starve the eagles of ball. The mistakes by the Eagles were enough to put victory just out of reach, the scoreboard highlighting the close match-up as the Kiwis won 27-14.
Day 2 for the Eagles started out tough but would end on a high note. They drew England in the Cup quarterfinal match, which was a tough draw… but there are no easy matches in the Cup playoffs. The match seemed like a heavy weight slug-fest but in the end England pulled ahead to win. The USA played well but yet again, a couple of crucial mistakes – like an intercepted pass – lead to a try and England’s defense kept the Eagles coming up short 26-12… Following that loss, the USA was placed in the 5th place playoff. This used to be known as the Plate bracket. They faced Fiji, who were coming of a smarting loss to Scotland 24-0, and would likely look to take their revenge out on the Eagles. However, it was the USA that took their frustrations out on the Flying Fijians. Aided by two yellow cards by Fiji over the course of the game, the USA showed greater discipline and were able to force the key turnovers in this match instead of make them; like the win against the scrum feed that lead to the final try that put the match out of doubt… After that match it was time to face Manu Samoa. The Samoans are known for being inconsistent and are going through a rebuilding phase lead by former New Zealand 7s legend Sir Gordon Tietjens, who is focusing on a youth movement. The kids from Samoa were still very dangerous and they made the USA sweat on attack but the USA defense were able to hold out for a 24-19.
The Brilliant Blitzbokke:
The Blitzbokke 7s side have been all class this season. They had a streak of making the finals or winning a leg for 5 straight legs this season. After 4 straight series of finishing runners up, while the winner changed, they can finally call themselves champions. In a weird twist, the South Africans were upset by Scotland in their first game, which was an omen for everyone else and after defeating Japan, Canada, Samoa and New Zealand to end up in the final, they faced Scotland for the cup. The Blitzbokke were able to win on defense and in the contact area to win the match, which secured them the series title.
After their upset of South Africa, Scotland continued on their run as they knocked off Japan and Canada. In their cup quarterfinal they shocked everyone with a thorough dismantling of Fiji, 24-0. After that they scraped by England and had their first loss of the tournament against South Africa.
England went undefeated on day 1 (2 wins and a draw). We discussed how they too advantage of USA errors to win the Cup quarterfinal match. They were narrowly beaten by Scotland in the Cup semifinal and in the third place final they managed win an arm-wrestle of a match against New Zealand.
After falling short of making the Cup playoffs, Argentina, who were in a the group of death featuring the USA and NEw Zealand, found something to smile about. The ARgies found some form and went all the way to win the Challenge Trophy, defeating Australia.
Final standings were
Cup: South Africa
Bronze: New Zealand
Challenge Trophy: Argentina
If you missed any of the matches, my advice to you is that YouTube is your friend. Brush up, as London 7s is calling!
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Matt_McCarthy00, @Junoir Blaber, @JWB_RWU, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @MichaelHalsey24, @MeetTheMatts, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.