Scotland wins London Sevens for their maiden HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title, in that sides ‘first ever’ Cup final, defying the odds by beating South Africa 27-26. Like last weekend in Paris where Samoa won, they did it in thrilling style coming from behind in the last two minutes from the ‘Player Of The Final’ Dougie Fife, to take the Cup back to the Highlands of Scotland. The Land Of The Brave, and on this weekend they certainly reflected the ‘braveheart’ spirit immortalized by William Wallace.
It was a perfect end to the season, as for the first time six different nations walked away with tournament wins that show the game of sevens will only get better with the increased focus by Tier 1 and Tier 2 nations, and that the Rio Olympics gold medal is up for any team to claim. Gone are the days in which Fiji and New Zealand dominated, as the game continues to evolve to greater heights.
With Scotland winning the title (ending the season in 10th place on the table) the US Eagles claimed third spot as the Kiwis took the Plate home. The Welsh recovered from yesterday to take the Bowl title and Singapore Sevens champs Kenya settled for the Shield. And not forgetting–the fans had an absolutely fabulous time!
London Sevens Day Two: the LOWDOWN
Scotland wins London Sevens
Scotland came from behind to defeat the Commonwealth Games champions South Africa 27-26 to claim their maiden HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title. It was evident from the get-go that the Bravehearts ment business and they certainly lived up to their name.
Seabelo Senatla opened proceedings in the final, with good work from the forwards to kick-off the final but Jamie Farndale got one back quickly for the Scots, for a slender lead to the Blitzboks. Scotland scored next with a rolling maul from a line-out five meters from the line through Scott Wight to take the lead 10-7 and with that Scotland went to the break in their first ever series final leading the mighty South African team.
After the re-start, Rosko Specman benefited from some good work by Cecil Afrika to score under the posts for a 14-10 lead, and soon an intercept try from Afrika extended their lead to 21-10. It rocked the Scottish men but James Fleming ran the tram-lines hard and took two defenders with him across the line, to bring the scores back to 15-21 to the Blitzboks. The crowd were getting behind the Scots by now, but with Speckman grabbing his second soon after, that extended their lead to 15-26.
Great work by South Africa but the Scots refused to give in, and Dougie Fife grabbed one back with a converted try for a slim 22-26 lead to the Boks with only a minute to play. Tensions were rising, the match was balanced and magnificently, from the restart, the Scots made the impossible possible with Fife scoring the Cup winning try. Ceilidh!
United States take Third spot
United Stated defeated Fiji 26-19 to take third place at the London Sevens and with that, they exploited again defensive problems in the Fiji side. Players, who look good with ball in hand, but are tiring out their team mates who have to cover for them time and time again. It has been Fiji’s problem all season long and coach Ben Ryan seriously needs to address this issue or they will be humbled in Rio because many teams know how to counter them.
The Americans raced away with two quick tries to Martin Iosefo and Ben Pikelman, after some lazy defending from Fiji but the champions replied back through Kitione Taliga for a 14-5 lead to the US Eagles. Perry Baker picked up another try before Taliga got his double at the breather, for a 19-14 lead to the Americans.
From the restart, Jasa Veremalua shrugged off Perry Baker’s tackle to level the scores at 19-19. Fans then saw some Madison Hughes ‘magic’ where his individual brilliance gave the Americans the lead again, and his side managed a credible third spot finish in London.
Kiwis take Plate home
Rieko Ioane ran in his 10th try of the tournament, as New Zealand overcame a strong Argentinian outfit 29-14 to take the Plate home. The Kiwis showed their intention from the start as they stopped the Pumas from getting into their rhythm, with the Ioane brothers again leading the onslaught.
With the ever evolving nature of the game evident all weekend, New Zealand found themselves at the mercy of the blistering speed of Perry Baker as his four tries helped the Americans humiliate New Zealand 42-14 in the quarter final, and thus dropping the mighty Kiwis to the minor placings. While it may not be the finish they wanted, veteran coach Sir Gordon Tietjens will be happy with the talent he has nurtured–Regan Ware (leading rookie of the Year nominee), Teddy Stanaway, Lewis Ormond and Sione Molia.
Argentina and France will have to regroup and find the ‘missing pieces’ to have a formidable side ready for Rio in 10 weeks time.
The Kiwis thrashed England 35-10, and Argentina walloped France 31-5 to progress to the plate final respectively.
Wales pip Aussies to claim Bowl title
Wales bounced back from their defeat to Australia in pool play, to win 24-19 and claim the Bowl title with Luke Treharne again leading by example as he chases Olympics selection with Team Great Britain in August. The Welsh lost their three games yesterday but won all three on Day Two, to finish on a high.
Australia who made six changes this week, losing all their confidence as they were relegated to the Bowl competition. Losing in the final sums up the weekend and ‘who’ is really needed to take up the challenge for the men in gold. Hopefully, their injured players recover to make the trip to Rio because Coach Andy Friend will need his best men available as the heat is turned up.
Kenya walk away with Shield
Singapore Sevens champs Kenya overcame a spirited Russian side 31-7, to walk away with the Shield here in London after a dismal performance on Day One. World leading top try-scorer Collins Injera extended his record to 234 career tries as the Benjamin Ayimba side head into their preparation for the Rio Olympics. The return of Willy Ambaka has boosted their chances too.
Injera commented on the London Sevens for him, and Kenya.
“Mixed emotions. On a personal level I managed to archive the personal goal I had set when I started playing rugby, but as a team we found ourselves in a difficult situation, but saying that I think we finished on a positive and heading to the Olympics now we just need to go home rest, recover, prepare and work hard for next one…. I think we are on the verge of something special” speaking to worldrugby.org
Russia, after retaining their core status for next season, like many others will soon head to Monaco in June, to try to qualify to the pinnacle of all sports in August, but the talk of the town in Edinburgh tonight will be “Scotland Wins London Sevens”.
Player Of The Final
Dougie Fife (SCO) The two-try hero in the last minutes of the game deserves all the accolades.
Player Of The Tournament
Damien Hoyland (SCO)
London Sevens Dream Team
Scott Riddell (SCO), Tim Agaba (RSA), Damien Hoyland (SCO), Mark Robertson (SCO), Rosko Specman (RSA), Perry Baker (USA), Reiko Ioane (NZL)
World Sevens Series Final Standings For 2015-16 Season
- Fiji – 181 points, and series Champions
- South Africa – 171
- New Zealand – 158
- Australia – 134
- Argentina – 119
- USA – 117
- Kenya – 98
- England – 92
- Samoa – 89
- Scotland – 87
- France – 85
- Wales – 54
- Canada – 40
- Russia – 28
- Japan – 21
- Portugal – 21
The season has come to an end with all it’s spills, triumphs and big hits and we do it all over again next season but now, the focus shifts to the Olympics and who will reign supreme. Can Jarryd Hayne make the cut for Fiji? Will the Kiwi big guns recover in time for Rio? All that will unfold in the next two months.
The HSBC World Sevens Series is all but wrapped up, teams now head to their Annual Awards night and Last Word On Sports will bring you all the coverage of that star filled evening, but once again ‘well done Scotland’.