A great weekend for New Zealand rugby, as both the All Blacks and the Black Ferns won the men’s and women’s titles at the HSBC Sevens Series tournaments in Sydney (AUS). But it was also another second-place finish for the U.S. men, continuing their hold on first place through four stops!
In the men’s tournament, Fiji, New Zealand and the U.S. all went 3-0 in pool play. The Eagles dominated Spain in the quarters, 38-10, and then got by England, 14-7, in the semis. Meanwhile, New Zealand pounded Fiji, 36-14, in its semifinal, to face the U.S. in the championship match.
That turned out to be a 21-5 win for the All Blacks, so the U.S. was denied again, in its fourth straight final, losing twice to New Zealand and twice to Fiji. But both New Zealand and the U.S. are atop the standings with 76 points each, trailed by Fiji with 72.
Remember, the U.S. has never finished better than fourth in a Sevens Series season, so this is rarefied air indeed … and the next tournament is in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The women’s tournament started with New Zealand the only unbeaten team in pool play (3-0). In the playoffs, the Black Ferns sprinted past Canada, 17-7, in the quarters and then beat the U.S., 29-5 in the semis. The final was another dominant performance, a 34-10 win over Australia. The U.S. had no trouble with Ireland in the bronze-medal match, 26-10.
That’s three-for-three for the Black Ferns this season and a perfect 60 points. Behind them is the surprising U.S. with 48, then Canada and Australia with 46 each, at the halfway point of the Sevens Series season. The U.S. women have never finished better than fourth in any of the six seasons of the Sevens Series. Summaries:
World Rugby Sevens Series
Sydney (AUS) ~ 2-3 February 2019
(Full results here)
Men: 1. New Zealand; 2. United States; 3. England; 4. Fiji. Semis: New Zealand d. Fiji, 36-14; U.S. d. England, 14-7. Third: England d. Fiji, 19-17. Final: New Zealand d. U.S., 21-5.
Women: 1. New Zealand; 2. Austyralia; 3. United States; 4. Ireland. Semis: New Zealand d. U.S., 29-5; Australia d. Ireland, 24-12. Third: U.S. d, Ireland, 26-10. Final: New Zealand 34, Australia 10.