Why French sevens hero is 'happy' to play NZ in HK semis
Sevens World Series heavyweights France survived an almighty scare on Sunday morning after going to extra time in their men’s quarter-final against surprise package Spain.
Playing on the sacred turf at Hong Kong Stadium, Les Bleus were on the brink of a surprising exit before super sub William Iraguha made his mark.
France traded tries with their underdog opponents throughout an intense sevens battle, and they couldn’t be split on the scoreboard at the end of regular time.
France, who were third on the World Series rankings before this weekend’s event in Hong Kong, were the heavy favourites going into this clash.
With a point to prove head into extra time, Les Bleus needed something special.
Sevens magician William Iraguha pulled something incredible out of his hat in the 16th minute, as he weaved his way through the Spanish defensive line to score a match-winner in front of the famous south stand.
“I didn’t do it by myself, the whole team defended really, really well,” Iraguha told RugbyPass.
“We got the ball back and the counter, Jean Paul Barraque passed the ball and I was near the try line so I had to make it happen for the team.
Extra-time joy for France and extra-time heartbreak for Spain
William Iraguha sends his team into the semi-finals at #HK7s #HSBC7s | @FranceRugby pic.twitter.com/CPO1pL2EEfADVERTISEMENT
— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) April 2, 2023
“It’s a team effort, rugby is not an individual sport.”
After sneaking past Spain in a thriller, France are eager to get “revenge” over World Series leaders New Zealand in their Cup semi-final.
The All Blacks Sevens have had France’s number in recent matches, but Iraguha explained why these “are the games we want to play.”
“It’s going to be really tough. The last two times we played them they smashed us,” he added.
“I’m happy, the whole squads happy that we’re playing them, and hopefully we can get our revenge.
“We always have a point to prove, especially against New Zealand. They’re on top of the series at the moment so those are the games we want to play.”
Following his heroics in a tough quarter-final, Iraguha was clearly the most popular person at the legendary sevens venue – for quite some time too.
Iraguha signed countless autographs with fans near the sideline, and took more selfies with supporters in the northern stand before making his way down the tunnel.
The French sevens hero said “it’s important” for players – who were fans themselves at one point – to give back.
“It’s something I really love doing. I’ve been playing rugby since the youngest of ages and I remember being just like those kids.
“I remember the first time I saw the Springboks squad I had stars in my eyes so I know how it feels to be in their place.
“I love to take time to give back and it’s important I think.”
Like millions of rugby fans around the world, Iraguha was in awe of the Hong Kong Sevens growing up.
The 25-year-old had a dream of playing at the legendary event, and made that a reality on Friday.
“It’s my first time playing at Hong Kong actually.
“It’s one of the tournaments that I wanted to play the most.
“I remember going to my friends place and watching the tournament there, watching Fiji, Samoa in the final and just dreaming of being here.
“Now I’m here, honestly it doesn’t feel real sometimes, I don’t think I’ve realised it.
“The tournament is far from over, we’re only in the semi now and our goal is obviously to win… the job’s not done.”
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So well deserved!! Arise Sir WayneGo to comments
The 20s got nailed at scrum time so are gonna have to address that somehow.Go to comments