Fiji and Australia have faced claims they were breaking the law with their ruck play leading into the title-deciding final leg of the HSBC World Rugby Series Sevens tournament in Paris this weekend.
Mike Friday, the USA head coach, raised the issue of what he believed was teams crawling on hands and feet through a ruck with Australia and Fiji, who contested the final in London on Sunday, singled out for this practice.
With Fiji just two points ahead of the USA at the top of the table, the problem was raised at today’s meeting of team coaches with referee chiefs Craig Joubert (World Rugby referee coach) and Paddy O’Brien (World Rugby referee manager). As a result, RugbyPass understands Joubert and O’Brien issued a “clear direction” to ensure this does not become a factor in the crucial final round of the Series at the Paris Sevens.
Friday first raised the tactics of the Fijians and Australians in an interview with FloRugby and this led to the claim being highlighted in the coaches meeting in Paris. Friday and his USA team have led the table throughout the Series until they were beaten 17-10 by Fiji in the London semi-finals with the reigning Olympic champions thumping Australia in a one-sided final at Twickenham.
USA were the first country to clinch automatic qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games Sevens in Tokyo and have been followed by Rio champions Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa in securing the four available places. The other eight places will be decided by regional qualification tournaments.
“We are pleased to have been the first men’s team to have achieved Olympic qualifications, which was our primary goal this season,” Friday told FloRugby. “To be going into Paris in control of our own destiny locked in a top of the table race with Fiji with only two points separating us exciting stuff.
“We have come so far in the last few years and it’s credit to all the hard work and sacrifice of the boy. It was a reasonable showing by us (in London) but we didn’t really get our attacking game playing consistently as we would like in the weekend and that is the challenge. There is lots to look forward to we have one last dance in Paris and we have an opportunity to go and get the Series which will be our aim one game at a time.”
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