It was an all-Great Britain final in the third and final round of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens Series in Gdynia, Poland, with the GB Royals overcoming the GB Lions 26-14 in a hotly-contested final on Sunday.
With Great Britain’s squad for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games named on Tuesday, the Poland round of the series was their last outing as two separate teams.
The Royals had cruised through the pool stages on Saturday and looked similarly composed in the knockout stages as they looked to back up their success at the Exeter Sevens the previous weekend.
In the quarter-finals they made light work of Italy with Jamie Farndale, Warwick Lahmert, captain Luke Treharne and Ollie Lindsay-Hague all crossing in a 26-0 victory.
Then in the semi-final tries from James Rodwell, Alex Davis, Scott Riddell and Farndale secured a 22-0 win over fellow Rio 2016 participants Spain.
For the Lions it was less of a serene route to the final – in the last eight they were made to work very hard by Georgia before earning a 12-0 win with tries from Dan Norton and Morgan Williams.
The semi-final was an even tighter affair against Russia with Cameron Cowell’s extra-time penalty kick proving the difference between the two sides in a game that finished 17-14.
Sam Cross’s early try put the Lions on the front foot but a Vladimir Ostroushko double allowed Russia to take the lead.
A late Norton try, converted by Cowell, levelled proceedings at 14-14 and took the game into extra-time where a Cowell penalty decided the outcome.
In the final, a Tom Bowen brace put the GB Royals 12-0 up before Cowell converted his own try to cut the deficit to five points at the break.
Shortly after the restart, Norton stepped clear for the Lions’ second score which Cowell converted to put his side ahead for the first time in the game at 14-12.
But the Royals soon re-established dominance and sealed victory with two late scores, the first a fine offloading team move that ended with Lahmert going over and the second a Treharne interception to make it 26-14.
Spain and France, the two other Rio-bound sides in action, finished the tournament in fourth and seventh place respectively, with third place enough for Russia to claim the overall Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens Series title.
CANADA ON LOOKOUT FOR NEW COACH
Canada’s failure to qualify for the Olympic Games has resulted in Liam Middleton leaving his post as head coach after two years in charge.
A disappointing second season on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was followed by Canada falling short when it mattered most, at the global repechage tournament in Monaco last month, where defeat to Russia saw their Olympic dream shattered at the quarter-final stage.
Rugby Canada will now go on a global search for a new coach, while assistant coach Lee Douglas, hired by Middleton last year, will remain in situ.