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World Rugby Sevens Series: Fiji go top with victory in penultimate round in London

An overview of all the action from the London round of the World Sevens Series

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Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fiji went two points clear of USA at the summit of the World Rugby Sevens standings, after winning in London for the second consecutive year.

The 3-time sevens world champions dismantled Australia with a runaway 43-7 victory in the final at Twickenham.

USA overcame France 31-14 in the bronze final to remain in touching distance of Fiji heading into the final round in Paris on June 1st.

New Zealand and South Africa secured their top-four places and Olympic qualification, meaning they will join Fiji and the USA at Tokyo 2020.

New Zealand lost 19-14 to France in their cup quarter-final, but beat South Africa and Ireland to claim 5th place.

South Africa’s loss to the All Blacks condemned a disastrous second day; the ‘Blitzboks’ were beaten by Australia 29-22 in the cup quarter-finals before their failure in the 5th place semi-final.

The South African’s poor display offered England a slim chance of automatic Olympic qualification, but they were beaten 24-19 by Samoa in the challenge quarter-final.

A 40-21 victory against Spain in the 13th place semi-final gave the home crowd a brief lift, but a 29-14 loss to Japan in the final capped a disappointing showing.

There is the reprieve of a European qualifying tournament in July for England, which offers them a second chance of securing Great Britain a place at Tokyo 2020.

Wales edged closer to a top 14 finish in the series with a vital 17-0 victory over fellow relegation candidates Japan.

The team that finishes 15th – the lowest core team – will be relegated for 2019-20.

Richie Pugh’s side are currently 13th in the standings, and opened up a three point gap over nearest challengers Kenya.

“We’ve picked up the most points out of all the bottom three teams and the performances within those results have given us a lot to be please about,” Pugh said.

Elsewhere, Samoa beat Scotland 26-17 in the Challenge final to stay in touch with 5th placed Australia.

Scotland had overcame Kenya (29-21) and Wales (33-7) in the previous rounds.

Ireland arguably pulled off the shock of the tournament on first day, beating hosts England 21-17 in Pool C.

Ireland, who will become a core team next year, went on to reach the 5th place play-off, eventually losing to New Zealand 35-14.

The series now heads to the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris, with all attentions on the top of the table, as the USA will look to deny Fiji a third title in five years.

Sevens

‘Quadzilla’ Set for Sevens Debut

Former sprinter Trae Williams is set to make his debut for the Australian Sevens side this weekend

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(Photo credit SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Former sprinter Trae Williams is set to make his debut for the Australian Sevens team this weekend in Dubai.

Nicknamed ‘Quadzilla’. Williams has a personal best of 10.10 seconds over 100 metres and his arrival to the sport caused waves across social media as he is potentially set to become the fastest rugby player ever. 

However, despite there being a huge amount of excitement around his debut, Australian head coach Tim Walsh has admitted he isn’t expecting much from the 22-year-old during the opening round of the world series, as Williams only switched to the sport seven-months ago.

 “I’m not expecting much from him over the weekend at all. I really want him to enjoy himself and to get a feel for it and the players around him will hopefully allow him, or create space for him, to use his weapon – speed. It’s a huge occasion and despite his background and the work he’s done, it’s still a massive step so there’s absolutely no pressure on him,” he said while speaking to AAP. 

Walsh’s main tip to the youngster was to just simply “run fast” as he gets to grips with the sport. 

Having made the switch, Williams ignited the debate as to whether he would be faster than the current fastest player on the planet Carlin Isles, with Isles insisting that he would still be the top-speedster in the game. 

Following the Aussies first two pool games against Scotland and Fiji they take on the US and fans will be hoping that both Williams and Isles are on the pitch at the same time as they come face to face for the first time. 

It will be a challenging weekend for Williams as he adapts to the game, but fans will be hoping he can build-up his game ahead of he Olympics next year with Australia holding high expectations for the tournament in Tokyo.

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Sevens

Final Team Announced for RugbyX Competition

The final team to compete in the first ever RugbyX tournament has been confirmed and it will make things even more interesting

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The Barbarians have been confirmed as the final team to compete at this year’s first ever RugbyX event in the O2 in London on October 29th.

The Baa Baas become the sixth team to be announced for the one-day tournament with international Sevens teams from Argentina, England, Ireland, France and the USA all set to battle it out.

Speaking on the Barbarians inclusion Technical Director of RugbyX Ben Ryan believes that the sport will provide fans with a brilliant new way to support their country.

“RugbyX is bringing world leading international Sevens rugby teams into Europe’s number one entertainment destination – The O2 arena – for an adapted form of the game we love. RugbyX will provide new and existing fans with an opportunity to support their national team in a brand new rugby environment,” he said.

He went on to say that the Baa Baas have all the qualities within their side that the tournament needs and thinks they are in with a huge chance of winning the competition.

“At RugbyX we are looking to instil some key principles with this new format of the game which consist of teamwork, participation and inclusion. These values are the fundamentals of the Barbarians’ existence so to have them participate at RugbyX is just brilliant. Additionally, the wealth of experience and talent that the Barbarians have to select from will make them one of the strongest competitors at The O2 in October,” he added.

Barbarians Chairman John Spencer is delighted that his side now have another platform to perform on.

“Since our foundation in 1890, the Barbarians have been committed to combining the best of attacking rugby with the traditions of enjoyment and sportsmanship for which our club and our sport is famous throughout the world. We are delighted to bring those traditions to this most innovative format of rugby at The O2 arena in London. We have had success in the Sevens game previously, with wins at the Hong Kong Sevens and Middlesex Sevens amongst the Barbarians past honours. We look forward to facing the world’s leading international sevens teams in this new fast-paced, five vs. five format of the game we love,” he said.

The new brand of rugby will use all the same rules as rugby union in terms of foul play and breakdown penalties. However, there will only be 5 players per team with each match lasting only 10 minutes with no half-time.

As well as that there are no line-outs only quick-throws which are taken by a substitute from the team in possession and there are no conversions.

The plan is that this will create a new faster brand of rugby which will become appealing to fans across the world.

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Can Isles Be Stopped?!

We all know how good Carlin Isles is and he proved it this season but does he finally have competition?

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(Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for Singapore Sports Hub)

Carlin Isles secured the Sevens Series top try-scorer accolade with 52 tries in the series but there could be a challenger for him next season.

After Australia signed sprinter Trae Williams for next season people wondered if he would overtake Isles as the fastest rugby player on the planet, however, Isles believes he is still faster, but could Williams potentially score more tries than the American?

Since Isle’s move from track to the pitch he has been almost unstoppable with ball in hand as he runs rings around the opposition but new-kid on the block Williams will make the switch with a background in rugby already under his belt.

Isles has already shown a reluctance to give up his crown of being the fastest player around but he may have another title to worry about now. Isles and the US finished second in this series and will hope to continue their impressive form in the sport and claim a series win soon.

Whatever happens it will be some clash to see the two speedsters compete for everything next time around.

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