This weekend, the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series came to it’s exciting conclusion as Canada wins Clermont-Ferrand Sevens tournament in France, the final leg of the 2015/2016 season. A great achievement for the Maple Leafs all the while, as predicted by the Lowdown, the Aussies claim first series title in that nations history.
As the season came to an end at the Stade Gabriel Montpied, it wasn’t the ‘sweet ending’ the Aussies were looking forward to as the Ghislaine Landry inspired Canadians spoiled the Aussies double celebration by winning the final 29-14. The Aussies were given a taste of their own medicine as the Maple Leafs nullified all the Aussies attacking threats and upset them during contact, with great work from Karen Paquin and ‘Player Of The Final’ Kelly Russell.
”We put in moments of brilliance all season. We have shown that we can run hard and do it for 14 and 20 minutes” Landry told worldrugby.org.
It was of course a historical series victory for the Aussie Pearls none the less, and they will quickly turn that victory aside as all qualified teams turn their attention to the Rio Olympics as they now know that the tournament will not be easy–as any team can win, as the Canadians clearly showed today.
As Canada walk away with the French title, the Kiwis took third spot from England in a great play-off game, Hosts Les Tricolor kept the plate at home, as Spain take the seventh place in heartbreaking fashion from the Fiji girls. Kenya finished 11th in their first-ever series appearance.
Clermont-Ferrand Sevens: the LOWDOWN
Canada Wins Clermont-Ferrand Sevens
Ghislaine Landry inspired her Maple Leafs team to win the Cup final against Australia 29-19 even when she had been placed in the sin bin, her teammates held on with new find Brittany Benn in top shape. With ‘Player of The Final’ Kelly Russell, who were assisted well by the returning Magali Harvey and Karen Paquin.
Canada had to fight on, after losing ‘Captain Courageous’ Jen Kish earlier in the tournament, but all credit to them they took the pace of the game to another level that left the 2015/2016 series champion and three time winner this season, dumbfounded. It was the tenacity and vigor which the Canadians brought to the game, that caught the experienced Australian side off guard. They will be left to rue the moment, as they were served with a ‘taste of their own medicine’.
The Maple Leafs isolated the Australian forward and stopped Emile Cherry in her tracks, halted them getting those quick ball to Emma Tonegato and Elia Green and they Canadians stepped up the tempo and quick rush-defense was too hot for the Tim Walsh coached side to handle. In all essence, the Canadians just showed the world ‘how to beat the much fancied Aussies’ as they were likely fielding a team that will each make the final-cut; give or take a few depending on injury worries.
A commendable achievement which took the gloss off the Pearls, to a degree. They had a consistency that cannot be denied and that earned them the respect of all rugby sevens fans, and of Last Word On Sports.
Kiwi Sisters take Third spot
Playing without several of their senior players was always going to tell on the Kiwis, but as a strong rugby nation the young girls from the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ took the challenge on and fought all the way with Australia into the semifinal–despite losing, they had their sweet revenge over the English 22-5 in the third place play-off, to claim some respect and second position overall in the Sevens Series standings.
New Zealand (NZ) are missed the likes of Selica Winiata, Honey Hireme, Tayla Natha-Wong, Stacey Waaka and Gayle Broughton who will all be fighting for places to Rio in the Sean Horan coached side. A job that will be hard for Horan to undertake–to choose a squad of 12 but the presence of Kayla McAlister, Huriana Manuel, Kelly Brazier, Portia Woodman and captain Sarah Goss was evidence of the strong base they still hold, here in the Auvergne region.
England will take this loss as a tune-up for next season, as their focus shifts now to the Olympic Great Britain team, where players like Emily Scarratt, Amy Wilson-Hardy, Heather Fisher and the injured Jo Watmore will all play pivotal roles, as they try to win gold with ‘Team GB’.
Les Tricolor keep Plate title at home
Camille Grassineau grabbed a hat-rick as the French pipped the United States (US) 22-19 to claim the Plate title in front of a very vocal partisan crowd who appreciated the talents on display. The French are getting better at every tournament, with Grassineau, Fanny Horta, Shannon Izar and Marjorie Mayans leading by example and, honestly they could now be the underdogs in Rio de Janeiro.
The Americans had a good outing on day two and will use all they have learned over the season for a better outing in Rio, with young 17-year old Lilly Durbin fast becoming a star of the game. With a little more game time, this young talent could be grabbing the headlines in sevens series to come, but they will have to call on their more experienced players if they want to be fully competitive in Rio.
Garcia breaks Fijian hearts in extra-time to claim 7th spot
In the space of a few minutes, Patricia Garcia came off the bench, scored a try that leveled the scores at 10-all, missed the conversion so they went to extra-time, where she kicked a penalty drop goal to claim 7th spot for Los Leonas 13-10. A super-impact, it was a good way to finish the tournament for the Spanish side as they now head to Dublin and try to claim that remaining last spot to the pinnacle of world sports in August.
Berta Garcia and her improving troops have regained their core status for 2016/2017, so it’s new mission will be Rio–with qualification a clear goal for them now in June.
Fiji displayed the lack of depth in their side today, as the really missed the services of their senior players. That included Asinate Savu, Litia Naiqato, Tima Ravisa and Lavenia Tinai who were all under injury clouds but were ‘not risked’ by the management, as they want them in tip-top shape in Rio. While, all the focus has been centered around their men’s team in 2016, the women also have their work cut out for them over the next seven weeks, as they fight for places to Rio.
Fitness and a need to be more clinical in their finishing, is one observation as players like Rebecca Tavo and Ebony Satala; who did well at the Stade Gabriel Montpied tournament, have to really work on their fitness as they were not good enough this weekend–how devastating would they be if they were fit enough to last into Day Two and further? That factor can be remedied….nothing the famous sand dune runs that their male counterparts always use, can’t help fix.
Also, performing well this weekend was Rusila Nagasau who was outstanding in both attack and defense, beside speedster Luisa Tisolo and forward Merewai Cumu finally coming out from their ‘comfort zones’ to showcase their talent which left the World Rugby television commentators in awe.
Russia go home with the Bowl, Kenya claim 11th place
The Russian Bears put off a valiant Irish team 24-5 to go home with the Bowl title from the Clermont-Ferrand Sevens, well done. The Russian team is brim-full of youth who are being drilled to take the sport forward in their motherland, and they were very competitive even without most of their established stars. Again Daria Babkova showed her pace which should be be really realized to it’s fullest with the return of experienced Nadezda Kudinova (who was missing in this tournament) a tempting duo who will bring this side to life.
Ireland will walk away from this ‘on a high’ as their focus now shifts to the repechage qualifier for Rio, being held in Dublin where they will be competing with fellow core-status team Spain, for a spot to Rio. How they finish in that tournament, will importantly decide their fate for next season as the top two sides from the qualifier in Dublin, gains automatic positions as core teams into next seasons series.
In Kenya’s first-ever series appearance, they finished it in-style as they the defeated outgoing core team Japan 12-5 in their play-off. With Janet Okelo grabbing a double, it was a good tournament for Kenya as they will use this experience learned over these two days, to refine their craft heading to Rio in August (they have qualified, with South Africa not sending a women’s team to the Games)
The Sakura Sevens came to France with a mission to fight for survival, but with the lack of depth in the team it was evident and sadly this would be their final weekend on the world circuit. They will have to go through qualifiers for the 2017/2018 season to make any comeback against the elite sides, and LWOS will miss watching the likes of the talented Marie Yamaguchi but they will be Rio, carrying the hopes of the Asian region on their shoulders.
DHL Player Of The Final
Kelly Russell (Canada) Thoroughly deserved for her gallant effort in the final especially when they were down to six women.
Clermont-Ferrand Sevens ‘Dream Team’ – courtesy of World Rugby
Brittany Benn (Canada), Rusila Nagasau (Fiji), Ghislaine Landry (Canada), Sharni Williams (Australia), Camille Grassineau (France), Elia Green (Australia), Portia Woodman (New Zealand).
HSBC Women’s Sevens Series Final Standings:
- Australia – 94 series points, and 2015/2016 title holders.
- New Zealand – 80
- Canada – 74
- England – 74
- France – 60
- USA – 46
- Russia – 42
- Fiji – 34
- Spain – 28
- Brazil – 12
- Japan – 12
- Ireland – 11
- Kenya – 2
- Colombia – 1
Over the course of the five rounds of this 2015/2016 World Rugby HSBC Women’s Sevens Series, fans have delighted in the best talent on the planet concentrated in Dubai, Sau Paulo, Atlanta, Langford and now in France. All season, our sevens reporter Jovilisi Waqa has brought his regular Lowdown feature for each of the tournaments.
Canada Wins Clermont-Ferrand Sevens As Aussies Claim First Series Title
Last Word On Sports congratulate the winning sides and ‘Jovi’ for his regular contributions, as all eyes now turn toward Rio de Janiero. Look forward to more rugby sevens coverage leading up to, and including all results from the Olympic Games in August, 2016 from LWOS South.
“Main photo credit” – courtesy of the Australian Olympic website: http://rio2016.olympics.com.au/news/second-in-france-but-history-made-for-aussie-sevens