With this weekend’s Samoa rugby sevens teams’ success at the Cape Town 7s tournament, it is a real boost for the 2022/23 HSBS Sevens Series.
Too often, a side dominates for stages of the sevens series. Even for the season, and that can make for a stagnated feel. The South African men had, and the Aussie 7s still do. Not anymore – this opportunity taken by the Samoans will encourage others. Like Ireland, who recently competed in the Dubai 7s final, it all helps. And to the likes of Spain, who defeated New Zealand for that nation’s first time ever on day one.
In the women’s contest; which was staged in the same three-day Cape Town 7s event, New Zealand altered the recent status quo. Australia had been dominating the rugby sevens sport over the last years, so with Black Ferns 7s winning outright, they have shifted the balance in favour of others.
So with wins to the Samoa rugby sevens team, it adds the variety and spice much needed to make this year one to really look forward to.
Samoa rugby sevens Cape Town title a boost for HSBS Sevens Series
In the three Pools, Samoa had been paired against Ireland, Uruguay, and Japan. It opened a path to the quarter-finals and Uruguay upset Ireland to provide the best opportunity for the Manu Samoa team to progress. They did just that, seeing off Los Pumas 7s in the quarter-final before their biggest result in many years.
Beating South Africa 7-10 in their semi-final was a big achievement on its own. In tough conditions, as rain hit the Cape Town Stadium, the foundation laid over the last year finally showed fruition. And when the heavens opened, they maintained self-control to reply to the All Black 7s, when it seemed the Kiwi’s would overcome the Samoans.
But no. On this soggy afternoon, they firmed in the belief that they could respond. And the final try would come from Manu Samoa’s Vaa Apelu Maliko. An emotional group were overjoyed, as were their supporters on hand and those back in the Islands.
The moment that won it for @manusamoa7s 🇼🇸
— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) December 11, 2022
Looking at the New Zealand team, they should take some comfort in earning more series points. Not entirely happy though, as in past finals, they would have been confident of running down a side like Samoa. They must once again become more authoritative in their style if they are to do well on home soil in January.
South Africa will surely bounce back. Although, it will unsettle their fanbase – and like Fiji, they do well when they are supported. So anything could happen after a month off. Australia must really work hard, as will Ireland, Argentina, and the underperforming Great Britain group.
Kiwi women steal back winning ways at Cape Town 7s
Australia seemed well on course over the opening two days. Rampaging in fact, scoring at will. That was until the opposition improved (and the conditions deteriorated). That change took away the imperious appearance of the Aussie women, which New Zealand was finally able to fully utilize.
Def South Africa 52-0
Def Spain 38-0
Def Ireland 29-0
Def Great Britain 38-0
Def USA 33-12
Aussies got their tables turned this week with kiwis getting their revenge winning 14-31
— Sports Results/News (@sportsresnews) December 12, 2022
Tyla Nathan-Wong assumed a lot of the responsibility with the removal of senior leaders. Missing much experience, Corey Sweeney put much faith in his new charges – and benefitted from the natural enthusiasm. Using reserves well, their attitude also played a part. Over three days, Sweeney spoke of how they needed to control the important moments, and in the Cup final, they opened up a full lead and never looked back.
Nathan-Wong was the HSBC Player of the Final and she told World Rugby; “It was an epic performance by the team, it was a bit of a grind this week, but in the final the players found their self-belief and came out and delivered.”
After three rounds of the 2022/23 Sevens Series, the men’s table is ‘bunched’. South Africa pass up a points lead to now being equal with Samoa. Slightly behind is New Zealand and the United States, even – although each would still like to transfer high placings into tournament wins.
For the women, just the two tournaments have been completed. Australia holds one win, as do now New Zealand. Chasing them in the 12-team series are the United States Eagles, France, and Ireland. One team who are yet to ‘fire a shot’ is Fiji. They are yet to reach a semi-final, and similarly to their fellow men, not consistent enough to [yet] feature in the World Series.
Yet if this Samoa rugby sevens win proves anything, it is that sitting back on past accomplishments means little. Hard work pays off, and if the Christmas break can be used well by others, then fans might expect more from the likes of Argentina, France, Great Britain, and Canada.
Next round: HSBC Hamilton 7s, January 20-21
“Main photo credit courtesy of Twitter“