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New Zealand claim second Sevens double in Hong Kong

By Kim Ekin
New Zealand cruised to victory in both the women’s and men’s finals of the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on a dramatic final day to increase their leads at the top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 standings.

New Zealand teams claimed victory in both the women’s and men’s finals of the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, further strengthening their leads in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 standings.

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The men’s and women’s teams both accomplished the double victory in Sydney in January, making this the second time this season that they have achieved this feat. In the women’s cup final, the Black Ferns Sevens earned their fifth consecutive cup title, while the All Blacks Sevens won their first title in Hong Kong since 2014 in the men’s cup final.

Michaela Blyde, a New Zealand Black Ferns Sevens superstar, stated that their theme for the tournament was to honor the legacy of the Black Ferns Sevens who won the Hong Kong Sevens back in 2000, when it was not yet a World Series tournament. In front of a huge crowd in Hong Kong, Blyde said that they wanted to make the Black Ferns proud and that they felt humbled and honored to accomplish this.

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Great Britain women also claimed their first medal of the season in a tense 22-19 victory over Fiji, while France won their third podium finish of the season, narrowly beating Great Britain by two points. The bronze medal men’s final was also a nail-biter, with France defeating Great Britain 19-17, and Stephen Parez scoring the winning point in an end-to-end encounter.

The 2023 Series is the most competitive in history, with Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification on the line for the top four women’s and men’s teams. Hosts France men and women have pre-qualified for next summer’s pinnacle event in the nation’s capital, while New Zealand, USA and Australia have also secured their spots. The bottom three teams of the men’s Series will face off against the Sevens Challenger Series 2023 winner for the 12th and final position on the 2024 Series.

With five different winners in the men’s Series and six tournaments in the women’s Series, New Zealand currently leads both Series standings. In the men’s Series, New Zealand has won tournaments in Sydney, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong, with a total of 142 points.

Argentina follows closely with 121 points and has won in Hamilton and Vancouver. Hong Kong runners-up Fiji are in third place with 113 points, followed by Paris 2024 hosts France with 112 points and South Africa with 101 points.

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In the women’s Series, New Zealand has won the last five tournaments in Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Vancouver, and Hong Kong, totaling 118 points. Australia won the Dubai tournament and is in second place with 102 points, followed by the USA with 90 points. The race for the final Paris 2024 qualification spot is intense, with just four points separating Ireland, Fiji, and Great Britain. The Series finale will be held in Toulouse on May 12-14.

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