It was a dramatic season finale at the home of English Rugby, as Scotland retains the HSBC London Sevens title. They did it in style too, overcoming the hosts England in the final 12-7. It was a historical day for the Bravehearts, overcoming New Zealand early on Day Two for the first time in thier sevens rugby history.
Well played Scotland.
Plenty to talk about on the final though. England finishing second, and placing second in the overall honours too. Canada settling for Bronze today, with Sevens Series champs South Africa earning fifth spot [but still spraying the champagne as title holders].
Samoa finished 13th this weekend. The South Sea Islanders have importantly earned their spot to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco next season, along with Argentina and Canada. Fiji won the Challenge Trophy, to at least take home some pride after faltering in these last two weeks.
Scotland Retains London Sevens Title
They came, they saw, they conqured. They did it in style too coming from behind twice in the final day to retain their title. Dan Norton opened the scoring for England in the final and they took that lead to the breather 7-0 Scotland.
“We are getting nothing in the tackle contest at the moment because they are owning that space,” Calum MacRae says at half-time.
That halftime pep talk put the Scots into beast mode. The English caught napping from that halftime huddle and Hugh Blake punishes them. Scott Wight nails a beautiful conversion and they are tied 7-all. It was a see-saw battle from then on but the Scots kept their shape and their cool doing everthing right, Scott Wight found space brushed aside Richard De Carpentier before Joe Nayacavou gave one of those trademark Fijian one hand style pass for Scott Ridell to seal the victory 12-7.
Historical Day For The Scots
Not only did they made history by winning their second ever title, they also broke another record in overpowering the Kiwis. It was a first in their sevens history as they fought back from a 21-0 halftime deficit to claim victory 24-21. Dougie Fife was the hero of that match, and played outstanding footy in the last two weekends.
The Scots will rebuild after this as one of their talisman, Mark Robertson is retiring from the game. They will miss his presence but they have young guns like George Horne to take them forward. They will be without coach Callum McRae too, who is joining Edinburgh.
Whoever takes over, he has his work cut out for him to outshine the last two weeks for Scotland Sevens.
World Rugby Rolls Out Year End Accolades
Top Try Scorer Of The Season
Perry Baker deserved this award as he has greatly improved his game. He has matured under Mike Friday and will be devastating as he continues to improve. However, he still fell short of Vilimoni Delasau’s try scoring record of 81 in a single season.
Rookie Of The Year
The Argentinian rookie Matias Osadczuk takes out the award, ahead of Fiji’s Kalione Nasoko and New Zealand’s Vilimoni Koroi.
Tag Heur #DontCrackUnderPressure Award
This award went to the cool, calm and collected English captain Tom Mitchell.
DHL Impact Player of The Season Award
The award went to Sam Cross who pipped Dan Norton by a single point to the title. It might not have been a good season for the Welsh but he was ountstanding for the Scarlets.
World Rugby Sevens Series ‘Dream Team’ Of The Season
While many of the names here are real ‘stars’ it is a shame that Scotland, Canada or Australia do not get any names added. Watch for the annual World Series awards to share higher recognition for some new names and more awards.
HSBC London Sevens: The Lowdown
Canada Claims Bronze
It was like a replay of the Singapore Sevens final, and like it happened in the Asian port-city, the Canadians triumphed again. The 22-19 victory gave the Damian McGrath coached side more boost heading to the next season, with the Rugby World Cup Sevens in the United States in 2018.
Justin Douglas, Nathan Hirayama and John Moonlight have led their players well this season. They will need to step up to a new level in 2017/18. On the other hand Perry Baker and Danny Barrett were tremendous for Team USA. However, the ‘inside word’ is watch out for Stephen Tomasin and Ben Pikelman…they will be big names next season! [You heard it here first].
South Africa Settle for Fifth Spot
After their nail biting loss to the English right on the hooter to a Dan Norton try, they recovered to take fifth spot overall. The 28-17 victory over the Aussies was a fitting farewell to their ‘perfect season’. Rosko Specman was outstanding all year, so did Chris Dry together with Philip Snyman and Werner Kok.
Even in the absence of Seabelo Senatla, Kwagga Smith, Kyle Brown and Justin Geduld they still stood up. Cecil Afrika and Bronco Du Preez helping them round out the year, and walk away with their second World Series title.
The young Aussies will be happy with how the year unfolded for them, as they were able to unearth new stars. Tim Anstee, Lachie Anderson, Liam McNamara, Simon Kennewell (see above image) together with Charlie Taylor and Alex Gibbons will become household names in the future.
New Zealand Have Not Hit the Right Note in 2016/17
It will go down as their worst ever season for the Kiwis. Not only did they fail to win a tournament, they lost to the Scots for the first time too. Their 40-7 fifth spot semi-finals loss to Australia is testimony to how disappointing they are. Up 21-0 in the Cup quarters against the Scots only to break apart in the second half. Bested, the NZ team acknowledged the Scots in the below tweet.
However, they have unleashed new breed of player to take them through to next season. The likes of Vilimoni Koroi, Trael Joas, Jamie Booth, Tone Ng Shiu, together with Joe Ravouvou and Andrew Kneewstun will be their go-forward men in the season to come. On the other hand, full credit to DJ Forbes, Tim Mikkelson, Joe Webber and Lewis Ormond for ushering those boys through.
As well, new coach Clark Laidlaw takes over fully next season–it should be an exiting time (some teams may want to look over their shoulders in December.
Olympics Champs Settle for Challenge Trophy
Fiji had to settle for the Challenge Trophy on Day Two, after beating Wales in the final 26-14. They were bundled out of the main draw, after losses to Canada and New Zealand in the Pool stages. Fiji whipped Russia 31-5 in their Challenge Trophy quarters and walloped Kenya 45-5 in the semis.
Samoa settled for 13th spot, after beating Russia 24-19. However, they will be happy with their season as they also booked a spot to the San Francisco World Cup next year. Plenty of new goals to be set for the Manu.
World Rugby Sevens Series Final Standings for 2016/17
What A Fantastic Season!
It has been a fantastic season with its thrills and spills, joys and sorrows. The Blitzboks have emerged victorious, leading from the very first tournament. A tremendous effort with Scotland, Canada and the United States raising the bar to another level in 2016/17.
A brickbat for New Zealand and Fiji who have plenty to ponder, but a big ‘welcome back to Spain’ and see you all next season as the 2017/1/ season hit’s the circuit again.
Last Word on Rugby would like to thank Jovilisi Waqa for his dedication to reporting the game of Sevens. Over the entire season, never missing a beat, the Lowdown has been a mainstay of the LWOR teams regular updates on the sport.
Well done Jovi. Vinaka!
“Main photo credit”