Fiji reigns supreme in Paris Sevens


Fiji have been crowned World Rugby Sevens champions for the fourth time after victory in Paris.

It would come down to a matchup in the cup semi-final between Fiji and the USA as to who would win the overall series title. A Fiji win would clinch things then and there while the USA would clinch it with winning this and the cup final or a silver to a Fijian fourth place. 

Five different Fijians got tries as they cruised to a 33-14 win to clinch the series title. The USA, who finished in the top four in every stop on the circuit this year, would go on to finish fourth after a loss to South Africa in the bronze final. The Blitzboks would finish fourth overall. 

Napolioni Bolaca scored two tries en route to being Player of the Final. (Mike Lee – KLC Fotos)

In the cup final, Fiji pulled out to a 35-7 lead, including two tries from Player of the Final Napolioni Bolaca, and never looked back as they coasted to a 35-24 win over the All Black Sevens who finished the series in third. For Fiji, it was their fifth cup win of the series this year. 

“Last year we came here and we were further in front but we did not have the wherewithal to finish it off. That was quite painful,” said Fiji head coach Gareth Baber, who received the UL Mark of Excellence after the cup final for the season’s work.

“I thought that the back end of the season, carrying on from Hong Kong with Singapore, London last week and to round it off as we did, is pretty special. It’s all credit to everybody back home in Fiji, everybody who has supported us and kept patient. But, most of all to the staff and the quality outfit that we have playing for us.”

USA Coach Mike Friday was named Coach of the Year for guiding the USA to a second place finish and their first top four finish in series history.

“I’m immensely proud of the character and where we’ve come as a group,” said Friday. “To break through that glass ceiling of the top four and push the world series right to the penultimate game is a credit to the way that the boys have approached and delivered this season. But there’s still some learnings for us which is a good thing, it means that there’s growth. If there is growth there is potential and we can kick on and hopefully learn from these mistakes to make us better for next year.”

All four of Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa already sealed their places for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo back in London. 

France finished strong down the stretch and wound up with fifth at their home Sevens and eighth overall behind England, Samoa and Australia. Canada took the Challenge Trophy with a 28-12 win over Ireland and an overall finish of 11th. 

Ireland will join the circuit full time next year after winning the qualifying tournament in Hong Kong in April and take the place of Japan whose 52-7 loss to England in the Challenge Trophy quarter-finals sealed their fate as Kenya clinched safety by reaching the cup quarters and allowed Wales into safety despite a joint-last finish.  

There will be regional qualifiers for Tokyo in the coming months before it will all start again in Dubai later this year. Also to be determined is who will host the USA leg of the circuit in 2020 after Las Vegas hosted its last Sevens back in March. The Women’s Sevens will conclude in Biarritz between June 15-16. 

All photos in this story credited to Mike Lee of KLC Fotos.

Paris Sevens Dream Team:

Scott Curry (NZL)

Andrew Amonda (KEN)

James Rodwell (ENG)

Vilomoni Botitu (FIJ)

Andrew Knewstubb (NZL)

Madison Hughes (USA)

Muller Du Plessis (RSA)

Player of the Final:  Napolinoi Bolaca (FIJ)

2019 Men’s Dream Team:

Ben Pinkelman (USA)

Stephen Tomasin (USA)

Meli Derenalagi (FIJ)

Jerry Tuwai (FIJ)

Folau Niua (USA)

Vilimoni Botitu (FIJ)

Aminiasi Tuimaba (FIJ)


POOL A:  New Zealand, England, Russia, Scotland

POOL B:  Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland

POOL C:  France, USA, Fiji, China


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