RUGBY: U.S. clinches 2020 Olympic berth, but Fiji takes season lead with win in London

Fourth Seven Series win of the year for Fiji, in London.

The season-long goal of the U.S. Eagles was reached late Saturday in London (GBR) with the sweep of Pool D and advancement to the championship playoffs. That assured that the American squad – which had never finished higher than fifth – would be in the top four and automatically qualify for the 2020 Games.

However, there was still Sunday’s play ahead and after yet another loss to Fiji – this time, 17-10, in the semifinals – the U.S. routed France to finish third and now stands second overall with one more round to play. The standings:

1. 164 Fiji
2. 162 United States
3. 143 New Zealand
4. 131 South Africa
5. 109 England
6. 99 Australia
7. 95 Samoa
8. 86 France

The U.S. will finish in the top two almost no matter what happens in the final round in Paris, but has a chance now to win the 2018-19 series and become only the fifth nation to do so. Only New Zealand (12), South Africa (3), Fiji (3) and Samoa (1) have ever won the title.

“Yeah we got the Olympic qualification written off for this weekend, going into next weekend it’s all to play for,” said U.S. scoring star Stephen Tomasin.  “We’re two points behind Fiji so if we win the tournament next weekend, we end up winning the whole thing. It’s the first time we’ve been in a position to win the World Series, so it’s extremely exciting for us.”

The Eagles have already made history as the first team from the Americas to finish in the top four, or – looking ahead – the top two. Summaries from London:

World Rugby Sevens Series
London (GBR) ~ 25-26 May 2019
(Full results here)

Final Standings: 1. Fiji; 2. Australia; 3. United States; 4. France; 5. New Zealand; 6. Ireland; 7. tie, South Africa and Canada. Semis: Australia d. France, 31-24; Fiji d. U.S., 17-10. Third: U.S. d. France, 31-14. Final: Fiji d. Australia, 43-7.