Going into the South Africa leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, a number of nations are already showing plenty of promise and aiming to relinquish New Zealand of their title. As defending champions and winners of last years Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens in Port Elizabeth, the All Blacks had still yet to claim any silverware this season despite two consecutive finals.
Prior to the Cup Final there was more than silverware at stake as both France and New Zealand knew that whoever won would be top of the ranking before the next round in February. Clearly out to make a statement and not make it a case of third time unlucky, New Zealand recorded an emphatic 47-12 victory with the tournament’s top try scorer, Kurt Baker, bagging a hat-trick. What is even more impressive is that this was New Zealand’s fourth consecutive title in South Africa and their seventh win in nine years.
On home soil and looking to impress in front of their fans, South Africa took on Argentina in the Third Place Final. Despite the disappointing loss to the Kiwis in the semi-finals, South Africa bounced back to end their tournament on a high by demolishing the South Americans 35-0. Another one to look out for is the emerging talent of Cheslin Kolbe who scored an impressive hat-trick to the delight of the crowd.
Having claimed the opening round in Australia, Fiji this time found themselves in the Plate Final against Wales. James Davies, brother of test centre Jonathan, crossed over the line twice for Wales and ensured they recorded an entertaining and impressive 26-14 win. Elsewhere, a young Australia side beat Dubai Champions Samoa in the Bowl Final 26-14 whilst Spain claimed their second trophy of the season by defeating Zimbabwe 33-0.
So with a third of the HSBC Sevens World Series now ticked off, the next stop is New Zealand where there is sure to be a strong following from the rather partisan and expectant crowd. The competition is still wide open as New Zealand lie top with 60 points ahead of France (46), Fiji (44), South Africa (41) and Samoa (39). With three different winners from three different tournaments so far this season, then it would certainly come as no surprise if another nation doesn’t add their name to the silverware. Not that there will be too much time to celebrate though as the following week sees USA play host to round five as Las Vegas will be the scene for some show-stopping performances.
Be sure to check out our range of Sevens rugby shirts and clothing before joining us again in February as we round up all the latest action.