Twelve teams competed in Moscow this weekend for the first leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series 2019, which also served as a pre-qualifying tournament for the region's Olympic qualifier on 13-14 July in Colomiers.
And it was a strong France team that came out on top, defeating 2017 and 2018 champions Ireland in the final.
With the likes of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series veteran Terry Bouhraoua in their ranks, France ended the pool stage with a 3-0 win record having beaten Italy (33-7), Romania (26-12) and Ireland (38-14).
Italy, who qualified for the last eight as one of the best third-ranked teams in their pool, were comfortably beaten 53-0 before a thrilling semi-final match against England ended 24-19 in their favour.
Anthony Eddy’s Ireland’s side reached the final after securing victories over Pool C winners Spain and Germany in the quarter-final and semi-final, respectively.
Despite two tries from Jordan Conroy Ireland trailed 19-14 at half-time having conceded three at the other end with Remi Siega, Jean-Pascal Barraque and the impressive Marvin O’Connor all crossing for France.
Ireland edged in front when Billy Dardis raced clear at the start of the second half, but France hit back with Pierre Mignot adding a fourth try.
Chasing down a 10-point deficit, Ireland managed to score one more try through Terry Kennedy but their bid for a hat-trick of Moscow titles was over.
In the third-place play-off against Germany, England won 24-14 to ensure that Dan Norton at least had a medal to commemorate his 100th sevens tournament as an England player.
The top nine teams from the Moscow tournament will be joined in Colomiers by two from the Rugby Europe Trophy Sevens Series and one from the third-tier Conference.
The winner in Colomiers will join hosts Japan and the four qualifiers via the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in champions Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa in booking their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The next two teams will have another shot via the global repechage tournament next year.
RWC 2019 Tickets
RWC 2019 Official Ticketing site NOW LIVE
Fans can now register interest to apply for Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets