It was a fairytale finish to the 2016/17 HSBC Womens Sevens Series, as the New Zealand team accomplished a ‘Double-Double’ at the Clermont 7s in France. They wrapped up the series in style, overcoming the Aussies in another epic Trans-Tasman finale 22-7.
In a proud moment, the South Sea Islands women’s team finished in fifth place in Clermont-Ferrand. This was another outstanding result, as Fijiana continues to grow under Coach Iliesa Tanivula. They have also reached another milestone, in what could be described as their breakthrough year. Incredibly, they finished fourth overall on the World Series table – their highest ever finish.
As the New Zealand women dominated the entire series; only losing one match all year, the other games showed how close the competition is. Spain defeated Japan in the Challenge Trophy final, with Russia and Fijiana taking vital wins. In the final round, there was plenty of action in the last two days, as spots for San Francisco were taken up.
Canada reached third place, holding their own over the hosts France 36-7, with Ghislaine Landry scoring her 100th series try for Canada at the Clermont 7s. She is one of the stars, along with other female players who were recognized in the annual awards [see further down page].
San Francisco 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualification
After today’s action Australia, Fiji, Russia and France guaranteed their spots at next year’s competition. They join the already qualified New Zealand, Spain, Canada and the USA.
Now that the sevens series has been completed, other teams will go through World Rugby Regional Qualifiers for the remaining eight spots. If you want to keep up to date and hear all of the news about that competition, sign up to the World Rugby newsletter here.
Kiwi Seven Sisters Do the ‘Double-Double’
Inspirational Kiwi captain Tyla Nathan-Wong (see main picture) led her young brigade to another title in Clermont, en route to their series victory. They are the form team of the season only losing a game that came around in Sydney, when the USA pipped them. Since then, they have been untouchable, even without Sarah Goss and Portia Woodman.
New Zealand 22 Australia 7
It was Alena Saili who won the ball from the kickoff found Ruby Tui who nudged her way to the tryline, to give the Kiwis the early lead. Nathan-Wong nailing the conversion for a 7-0 lead. The Aussies were playing with more composure though, absorbing the Kiwi pressure. They have been playing well all weekend – unlike their last two tournaments.
The Aussies leveled the scores with Olympian Shannon Parry crossing, and lanky Chloe Dalton converting. The combination of old hands working well for the Aussies. At this stage, just when fans thought the Aussies were finding their rhythm, the Kiwis found another gear. Who else but superstar Ruby Tui, who shared to the silky skills of Niall Williams, to increase their lead as they went to the breather, 12-7 ahead.
From the restart the Kiwis were at it again. This time it was Shakira. No, not the singer but Shakira Baker who gave a freakish off load out wide for Michaela Blyde to score her 40th try of the sevens series. Kiwis leading 17-7, when provider Baker turned scorer in the end, to give the Kiwis the outstanding victory 22-7.
As the ‘Sevens Sisters’ rejoiced, it paid back the wounds of losing their title to Australia in 2016/17. Over six rounds, only bettered by Canada in the single tournament, so 5/6 is near to being perfect……No, it was dam close!!
New Zealand claim the #Clermont7s and Series trophies!
Captain Tyla Nathan-Wong paid tribute to her side: pic.twitter.com/ai8ag9Gele
HSBC Clermont 7s: The LOWDOWN
What a way to end the season in Clermont-Ferrand, as New Zealand and Fijiana celebrated their triumphs. They was more at stake too, with World Rugby rolling out the year end accolades immediately post-tournament. However, lets start with the Clermont 7s wrap.
Canada Farewell Steacy With A Bronze Medal finish
The Canadians bid farewell to one of the greats of their game–Ashley Steacy, with a bronze medal victory over France 36-7. It was an one sided affair that the hosts didn’t really have any answer to. Speedy back Charity Williams picked up four tries in one game. Awesome effort by the Maple Leafs.
Fijiana finished fifth after beating the United States 24-19. Russia claimed seventh spot after pipping the Irish 19-14. Meanwhile, Spain won the Challenge Trophy edging out series newcomers Japan 15-14.
In one of the more amazing matches, Brazil bid farewell to the World Series with a tremendous 27-17 victory over England. They will be playing their hearts out next season, to regain their core-status.
World Rugby 2016/17 End Of Year Accolades
Womens Sevens Series Rookie Of The Year
Plenty stars have been unearthed this season from Alena Saili of New Zealand to Cass Staples of Austraila among others but the winner is Raijeli Daveua of Fiji. She has been an integral part of the rise of Fijiana this season. A former International netballer her transition is still in process but her worth has been noticed.
The World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Rookie of the year is… Fiji’s Raijieli Daveua! pic.twitter.com/w440Te3Eo0
Try Scoring Sensation – Michaela Blyde
The top try scorer of the series is…with a whopping 40 tries…New Zealand’s Michaela Blyde! pic.twitter.com/7rOTKYBPdB
New Zealand Star Takes Further Honours
The DHL Impact Player for the 2016-17 Season is… New Zealand’s Michaela Blyde! pic.twitter.com/w03OgjJYHW
Women’s Sevens Series ‘Dream Team’
Alena Mikhaltsova of Russia was also outstanding throughout the season, along with the Fijiana girls, the Australian and Canadian players. They all deserve a big round of applause for a great year.
And finally:The Season DREAM TEAM: Brittany Benn, Ruby Tui, Sharni Williams, Michaela Blyde, Alev Kelter, Ghislaine Landry & Portia Woodman! pic.twitter.com/tDAigQY8MJ
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series table:
A reminder how the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series finished up: pic.twitter.com/ZuWBhBBKIh
The Lowdown Conclusion: “What a Season?”
It has been an incredible season with its thrills and spills. The game continues to evolve reaching new audiences all over the world. New stars have been unearthed as we farewell some legends but their legacy lives on.
It has been a rollercoaster ride bringing you the HSBC World Sevens Series for both Men’s and Women’s. We will see you all again next season and we hope that you have enjoyed the coverage that we have provided for you here at LWOR.
On behalf of the Last Word on Rugby team, we thank you for reading. This site will try to bring you the Regional Qualifier results, as men’s and women’s teams fight for spots to San Francisco. It is a busy season ahead in 2017/18, with the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, in Gold Coast.
But for now Au Revoir and enjoy your June/July Internationals.
“Main photo credit”