In front of a full house at FMG Stadium, Fiji was unstoppable and retained its HSBC New Zealand Seevens crown to move joint top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Fiji has now also won two of the first three tournaments of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Fiji playmaker Jerry Tui was named HSBC Player of the Final after directing his side’s comprehensive 38-0 victory.
The USA was a gallant loser and finished runner-up for the third consecutive tournament to hold on to a share of top spot in the series standings. Losing semi-finalists New Zealand and South Africa remain third and fourth respectively.
Fiji Head coach Gareth Baber said: “It was obviously very special [to go back-to-back] and I want to say a big thank you to all the Fijian fans. They certainly lifted the team today and we appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
The side were also awarded the UL Mark of Excellence Award for the act of sportsmanship ahead of the match as they lifted the ball girl high into the air while they said their final prayer.
New Zealand made sure that it finished its home campaign on a winning note with a 29-7 victory over South Africa in the bronze final.
A battle of wills played out between the two before New Zealand, much to the delight of their home fans, created a 19-7 cushion via tries either side of half-time. Werner Kok’s sin-bin for a late tackle on Andrew Knewstubb was then punished by the All Blacks Sevens. The home side’s determination shone through as they sent Joe Ravouvou over in the corner before Sam Dickson finished their scoring.
Scotland finished fifth beating Tonga 24-19 while England won the Challenge Trophy after beating Kenya 36-7. In the process England’s James Rodwell eclipsed Kiwi DJ Forbes’ record for the most appearances ever on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. It was Rodwell’s 90th tournament and he capped the landmark with a try.
Organisers put the sold out sign up early on day two of the world series sevens tournament and the capacity crowd partied and cheered through to the final whistle.
HSBC NZ Sevens General Manager Steve Dunbar said the second edition of the tournament in Hamilton had ticked every box.
“To have more than 23,500 fans head to the ground on Saturday and then 25,111 on Sunday was great. Fans have really embraced the festival we have built around the venue and that balance between the carnival and rugby created a winning vibe.
“The costumes were fantastic, the Fijian fans were incredible, and the behaviour of the vast majority of people was exemplary.”
Dunbar made special mention of the Black Ferns Sevens and the Fast Four tournament.
“To see our Black Ferns Sevens line up for the national anthem in front of a sold out stadium and go on to win the title was special. We all saw the emotion and how much it meant to the players and the crowd’s reaction to the team’s haka after full time spoke volumes.”
With just six arrests over the weekend police praised the behaviour of a crowd that moved freely between the Mill Street R18 zone, Willoughby Park Carnival and their allocated seats.
“We’ve proven this event works in Hamilton and we’re confident we’ve made the strongest possible case for World Rugby to award New Zealand the licence to keep the tournament here in 2020 and beyond,” Dunbar said.
World Rugby plan to announce the format of the World Sevens Series for the next four years in March or April of this year.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series moves onto Sydney next weekend (February 1-3) where full men’s and women’s tournaments will take place.
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