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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.

International

World Rugby Cancels Several Tournaments

World Rugby have announced the cancelation of a number of tournaments due to the coronavirus outbreak

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(Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

World Rugby have confirmed that several tournaments have been pushed back or cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus across the world.

Among the changes are Sevens tournaments, U20 World Cup campaigns and qualifying events for certain competitions. 

The worldwide rugby body released a statement earlier today outlining their plans for the foreseeable future. 

“After detailed and constructive dialogue with the respective host and participating unions, and with the wellbeing of the global rugby family at heart, the following events have been postponed:

  • The men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in London and Paris will be postponed, provisionally until September;
  • The women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Langford has been postponed until later in the year;
  • The final men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series event has been postponed until later in the year;
  • Some Rugby World Cup 2021 and 2023 regional qualifying events have been postponed;

In addition, the following event has been cancelled: The World Rugby U20 Championship 2020, scheduled to be hosted in northern Italy in late June and July, has been cancelled following detailed consultation with the Federazione Italiana Rugby. The Olympic Games Repechage qualification tournament scheduled for June is under review and World Rugby continues to be in close consultation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding the implications for the qualification process in the event that the repechage is unable to be hosted due to the covid-19 outbreak. The World Rugby Hall of Fame, located in Rugby, will be closed until the end of May in line with public health authority directives,” the statement read. 

The pandemic is causing havoc among the rugby community with both the Irish and English Rugby Football Unions calling a close on their domestic competitions for this season bar the PRO14 and English Premiership, which remain under review. 

Elsewhere, the Six Nations was unable to be concluded in its normal time frame due to the postponement of fixtures, with further disruption expected among the international game. 

In other league news the French Top 14 has been suspended and Super Rugby has done the same, however, the Australian sides are set to play against one another over the coming weeks.  

The dates resumption of the current campaigns remain unknown with the pandemic stopping everything in and out of sport.

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Ulster star added to Ireland 7s World Series squad.

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Anthony Eddy today announced his 13-player Ireland Men’s Sevens squad for the next HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series double-header in Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Ulster Academy scrum-half Graham Curtis has been included in the travelling squad for the first time, having featured for the Ireland Development side in Dubai in late 2019.

Otherwise, Eddy has been able to maintain consistency in his selection as Ireland bid to build on their seventh-place finish at the Sydney Sevens when the 2019/20 Men’s World Series resumes with back-to-back tournaments in America and Canada.

Ireland, once again captained by Billy Dardis, will depart Dublin today ahead of this weekend’s LA Sevens, which takes place at the Dignity Health Sports Park, the home of MLS side LA Galaxy.

While Foster Horan, named Intersport Elverys Players’ Player of the Tournament from Hamilton, is unavailable through injury, there is an experienced core to the Ireland squad, with the likes of Harry McNulty, Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Adam Leavy, Bryan Mollen, Greg O’Shea and Mark Roche all included.

Curtis, a former Ireland Under-19 international, joins Leinster Academy players Aaron O’Sullivan and Liam Turner in the 13, while Skerries RFC man Hugo Lennox and Jack Kelly complete the panel.

Drawn in Pool B, Eddy’s side will open their LA Sevens campaign against Canada on Saturday (kick-off 11.13am local time/7.13pm Irish time), before further pool clashes with Kenya (2.31pm local time/10.31pm Irish time) and the Blitzboks (7.05pm local time/3.05am Irish time) that day.

The knockout games and play-off matches will take place on Sunday and as the LA Sevens is a standalone Men’s event, the competition reverts back to the standard quarter-final format with the top two from each Pool advancing through.

After four legs of their debut season as a World Series core team, Ireland currently sit ninth on the overall standings and Eddy hopes his side can build further momentum over the next two tournaments in LA and then Vancouver.

“The group has prepared well for the LA and Vancouver legs and I think they are excited to get back to the old format of competition where they will play three games during the day,” he said.

“The turnaround from Sydney has been short but they are well rested and keen to show improvement from the last leg.”

You can follow all the build-up to the LA Sevens on IrishRugby.ie and on IRFU social media channels throughout the week, while the action will be live on Sky Sports and on the RTÉ Player to viewers in the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland Men’s Squad (Los Angeles 7s – Saturday, February 29-Sunday, March 1, Vancouver 7s — Saturday, March 7-Sunday March 8):

Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College)(captain)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College)
Graham Curtis (Malone/Ulster)*
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College).

*Denotes uncapped player

Los Angeles Sevens Ireland Men’s Match Schedule:

Pool B:
Saturday, February 29

Ireland v Canada, Dignity Health Sports Park, 11.13am local time/7.13pm Irish time
Ireland v Kenya, Dignity Health Sports Park, 2.31pm local time/10.31pm Irish time
Ireland v South Africa, Dignity Health Sports Park, 7.05pm local time/3.05am Irish time
Sunday, March 1

Play-Offs/Finals.

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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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