Rugby Sevens Review: New Zealand Maintain Sevens Dominance in Dubai


New Zealand continue to dominate the Rugby Sevens scene with both men’s and women’s teams taking the cup in Dubai this weekend. Both the All Blacks Sevens and the Black Ferns Sevens won the Rugby Sevens World Cup on San Francisco last July. The women have made it two-for-two on the HSBC Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series winning last month in Glendale, Colorado. For the men, they won their first title in Dubai—the men’s series opener—since 2009.

The Black Ferns Sevens have won their last five tournaments (Photo: World Rugby).

WOMEN’S RECAP:  On the women’s side, Tyla Nathan-Wong scored a pair of tries including one on the final play of the first half to defeat Canada, 26-14. It the the Black Fern’s fifth successive tournament triumph and extend their match winning streak in global competitions to 39. Theresa Fitzpatick and Gayle Broughton also scored tries for New Zealand while Ghislaine Landry and Julia Greenshields scored tries for Canada, who were in their first cup final since winning in Sydney in 2017. 

Australia, the defending Olympic Gold Medalists and series champions took bronze in Dubai with a 26-21 win over the USA on a last-second try by Lily Dick. The USA finished runners-up last month in Glendale to New Zealand. Alev Kelter scored a pair of tries and Naya Tapper with one had the Eagles up 21-14 in the bronze final, but Charlotte Caslick equalized for the Wallaroos Sevens before Dick’s winner. 

Russia won the Fifth Place game over England, 12-7, while China took the Challenge Trophy with a 12-7 sudden death win over Spain.

New Zealand are on maximum points through two rounds on 40 points, followed by Canada on 34, the USA on 32, and Australia on 28. The top four teams in the six-round series will automatically qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The next round is in Sydney on February 1-3.

Dubai Sevens Women’s Dream Team:

Brittany Benn (CAN)

Evania Pelite (AUS)

Sarah Goss (NZL)

Lauren Doyle (USA)

Gayle Broughton (NZL)

Kelly Brazier (NZL)

Bianca Farella (CAN)

Player of the Final:  Tyla Nathan-Wong (NZL)  

MEN’S RECAP:  The USA were in their first Cup Final since winning the Las Vegas Sevens last March. However, they could not overcome a banged-up, yet inspired New Zealand side who went out 21-5 winners to claim their first Dubai title since 2009. 

Both teams overcame dramatic semifinals where both teams won late. The All Blacks got a crucial defensive stop to force a penalty on England and win 7-5, while the USA defeated Australia on a match-ending try by Danny Barrett. 

In the Cup Final, Tone Ng Shiu got the opening try before Stephen Tomasin pulled five back for the Eagles. The game ultimately turned in the second half after New Zealand opted to take a line-out following a USA knock-on that went into touch. Dylan Collier caught the Eagles off guard and went in for the try just ahead of a fast-approaching Carlin Isles. Ngarohi McGarvey-Black added one more try to confirm the Cup for New Zealand. 

The USA lost all five of their matches last year in Dubai. One reason why was Perry Baker was out due to injury. This year, he was back and the two-time World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year was the joint-leading try scorer in Dubai with six. 

“As a group we are really disappointed we didn’t get the win,” said USA Sevens head coach Mike Friday. “We feel we need to grasp these moments and as we talked about after the final ‘you never win a silver only lose a gold’. We are positive for the  next challenge and will dust ourselves off, recover and reset to get ready for what will be another very tough assignment in Cape Town.”

England won bronze with a slender 15-14 win over Australia. Defending Olympic Gold Medalists Fiji took fifth place with a sudden death win over defending Series champions South Africa, 19-14. The Challenge Trophy went to Samoa with a 33-24 win over France. 

England’s Dan Norton became the first man to score 300 tries in the Series all-time.

Like the women, the top four men’s teams after the ten-round Series will automatically qualify for Tokyo. Round Two starts this Friday in Cape Town, South Africa, which was won last year by New Zealand. 

Dubai Sevens Men’s Dream Team:

Dan Norton (ENG)

Maurice Longbottom (AUS)

Andrew Knewstubb (NZL)

Tom Mitchell (ENG)

John Porch (AUS)

Ethan Waddleton (ENG)

Marcos Moroni (ARG)

Player of the Final:  Andrew Knewstubb (NZL)


Pool A:  New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa, Zimbabwe

Pool B:  USA, Argentina, Spain, Japan

Pool C:  England, Fiji, France, Kenya

Pool D:  Australia, Scotland, Canada, Wales


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