- Hosts France progress to men’s semi-finals with Samoa, Ireland and Fiji
- New Zealand men fail to reach quarter-finals for first time
- Series leaders South Africa miss out on quarter-finals for first time in nine years
- Top three in men’s Series standings all knocked out after Argentina and Australia lose in quarter-finals
- Australia and New Zealand women storm into semi-finals in style, joined by Fiji and Ireland
- Brazil women stun England in Pools to reach quarters
Day two at the HSBC France Sevens in Toulouse delivered huge upsets as the top three sides in the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings were knocked out and New Zealand failed to reach the quarter-finals for the first time ever, while Australia and New Zealand impressively progressed to the final four in the women’s event.
Searing heat provided challenging conditions for the players on an action-packed day that saw Ireland, Samoa, France and Fiji progress to the final four in the men’s event.
But some of the biggest stories of the day were written in the morning session, with a dramatic conclusion to the Pool stage in the men’s event.
Samoa earned their third win in three games to beat Series leaders South Africa 19-7, marking the Blitzboks’ first failure to reach the Cup quarter-finals since Hong Kong in 2013.
The shocks didn’t stop there, as New Zealand’s 29-14 defeat to Australia made some unwanted All Blacks Sevens history as they failed to progress to the quarters for the first time ever.
South Africa’s failure to make it to the knockout stages opened the door to the other title contenders, Argentina and Australia, but they suffered quarter-final defeats against Ireland and France respectively.
New Zealand’s women fared much better, reaching the semi-finals without conceding a single point, while champions Australia joined them there with a fourth consecutive victory.
Ireland and Fiji also progressed to the final four after hard-fought quarter-finals over Canada and France respectively.
The conclusion of the women’s Pool stage also threw up an upset, as relegation-battling Brazil earned a resounding 31-7 win over England to reach their first quarter-final since 2016.
Pumas Sevens crumble, Fiji fight back
Ireland continued their impressive run by beating Argentina 14-0 in hot conditions in the first men’s semi-final, thanks to a clinical first half performance and poor discipline from their opponents.
A beautifully worked team try was finished off by Bryan Mollen before Terry Kennedy crossed the line for his fourth score of the weekend.
Argentina lost Felipe Del Mestre to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle and shortly after his return to the pitch, substitute Joaquin Lamas also picked up a yellow, before the replacement then earned a second yellow late on.
Ireland’s deserved victory leaves them in contention for their first medal of the season, while it was a missed opportunity for a Pumas Sevens side that had been hoping to get as many points as possible to take advantage of South Africa’s early exit.
Fiji mounted a superb second-half fightback to reach the semi-finals with a tense 19-17 win over the USA, after going in at the break 12-0 down.
The Fijians turned on the style, showing all of their offloading prowess, pace and power as they scored three tries in the space of four minutes in the second period.
However, Steve Tomasin stretched over the line at the death to set up a dramatic finale.
The American missed the conversion that would have levelled the scores, but his side were given one final chance to attack after a penalty restart was awarded for foul play as Tomasin’s try was scored.
They opted for the scrum before attacking down the right wing, but Dmontae Noble was superbly tackled into touch to send Fiji into the final four.
Samoa edge thriller, France stun Aussies
Samoa came out on top of an incident-packed clash with England, triumphing 26-24 despite spending more than half the match a man down.
Both sides scored early tries before Paul Scanlan saw red for a dangerous tackle towards the end of the first half, leaving Samoa up against it.
England duly took advantage of their numerical advantage by running in tries either side of half time to take a 12-point lead, but the Samoans produced a spectacular fightback.
The English were let down by discipline as Tom Bowen and Jamie Adamson both spent time in the bin in the second half, and Samoa pounced by scoring 21 unanswered points before conceding what proved to be a consolation with the final play.
Hosts France were roared to glory against third-ranked Australia in their quarter-final, edging out the Aussies 21-19 thanks to an excellent second half showing.
Nick Malouf and Ben Dowling tries gave Australia a 14-7 lead at half time, responding to Thibaud Mazzoleni’s early score, but France replied through Pierre Mignot early in the second half.
The Series’ top points scorer Dietrich Roache crossed the whitewash to put the Aussies back in charge and take his personal tally to 249 for the season, but William Iraguha ran a superb support line to surge under the posts late on and spark jubilant scenes at the Stade Ernest Wallon.
Heavyweights continue to impress
New Zealand’s women, making just their second Series appearance of the season after returning in Langford three weeks ago, cruised into the semis with a 41-0 victory over Brazil.
Michaela Blyde’s superb form in Toulouse continued as she ran in two early tries to take her weekend total to six, before Risi Pouri-Lane stretched the Black Ferns Sevens’ lead further with a third score.
Serial try scorer Portia Woodman put on her latest finishing masterclass with a second half hat-trick, Shiray Kaka adding the other score, as New Zealand progressed to the last four without conceding a point.
Australia joined them there thanks to a 24-14 win over USA in their second consecutive meeting on Saturday.
Maddison Levi scored her sixth try of the weekend to hit back after a fast start from the USA, and Lily Dick showed a sharp turn of pace to put the game out of the Americans’ reach with one minute left on the clock.
Ireland squeak through as Fiji impress
Ireland edged Canada by a point in a rollercoaster 22-21 win over Canada where the lead constantly changed hands.
The Canadians went in 14-12 up at the break courtesy of one more conversion after the sides scored two tries apiece.
Erin King ran in her second try of the game early in the second half to put Ireland in front, but Olivia De Couvreur hit back to restore Canada’s lead.
However, Eve Higgins backed herself late in the game and had the pace to beat everyone down the right wing and touch down what turned out to be the decisive score.
Home advantage wasn’t enough to push France into the semi-finals, as they came undone against a free-flowing Fiji side.
Les Bleues hadn’t conceded more than one try in any of their games in Toulouse, but Fijiana crossed the line three times before half time to accumulate what proved to be an unassailable lead.
Rasa Nagasau added a fourth Fiji try early in the second half, but France finished with a flourish thanks to scores from Joanna Grisez and Ian Jason.
Giants felled in Pool stage
In pool D of the men’s event, Samoa continued their terrific Toulouse form by providing the shock of the weekend by beating South Africa 19-7 to seal a Pool stage exit for the Blitzboks.
The Series leaders, who also lost to Ireland in their opening game on Friday, went 19-0 down by half time, and Ronald Brown’s second half try was the only response Neil Powell’s side could muster after the break.
It marked the first time in nine years that the South Africans have failed to reach the quarter-finals, with Ireland taking the other knockout spot after beating Spain 26-21.
But the upsets didn’t end there, as Australia came out on top in a winner-takes-all Pool C clash by beating rivals New Zealand 29-14 to dump the All Blacks out of the competition.
It’s the first time that New Zealand have failed to make a Cup quarter-final, as points difference left them behind Australia and the USA, who defeated Scotland 28-12.
Pool A also went down to points difference, and Argentina came out on top thanks to a 19-7 win over England, despite being down to six men for most of the match, to boost their hopes of ending the weekend on top of the Series leaderboard.
England edged to second place after finishing four points better off than Canada, who earlier beat Japan 40-14, but it came about in controversial fashion.
Will Homer went under the posts late on for England but delayed grounding the ball as the Argentina players put no pressure on him to do so, instead choosing to run down the clock to ensure that England’s progress was safe.
The situation was not in keeping with the spirit of the game and World Rugby will review the circumstances and look at ways to ensure there is no repeat in future.
Fiji came out on top in the decider for top spot in Pool B, beating France 33-21 in a hugely entertaining clash, after Kenya pipped Wales to third place with a 19-14 victory that saw Billy Odhiambo notch his 99th try for his country.
South Africa and New Zealand earned some small solace for their early exits by beating Japan (40-0) and Wales (28-0) respectively in the ninth place quarter-finals.
Scotland defeated Kenya 26-14 and Spain edged Canada 21-19 in the other quarters in the battle for placement points.
France fly and Brazil serve up surprise
In the women’s event, the climactic Pool C decider between France and Ireland was the moment the home crowd were waiting for in the morning session, and the teams duly delivered a thrilling spectacle.
The Irish went in front through Megan Burns but couldn’t break through a resilient French defence a second time, despite dominating possession and territory.
Les Bleues took advantage in the second half when Grisez and Jade Ulutule struck to flip the game on its head for a 12-5 win that earned the hosts top spot.
There was a shock in the battle for third place in Pool C, as Brazil comprehensively beat England 31-7 to book a quarter-final spot and pick up valuable points in their bid to avoid relegation.
New Zealand were at their imperious best again as they defeated Canada 17-0 to finish top of Pool B without conceding a single point, while Spain took third after defeating Scotland 17-7.
In Pool A, Australia put in an outstanding performance in what promised to be a difficult task against third seeds USA, running out 31-0 winners.
Maddison Levi scored a brace and finished off a team move that flowed from one end of the pitch to the other and involved every Aussie player.
Fiji recorded the biggest win of the weekend so far by beating South Africa 59-0 to nail down second place.
There were passionate celebrations on show in the ninth-place play-off semi-finals after invitational side Scotland came from behind to beat England 21-19 thanks to a superb Rhona Lloyd try.
South Africa took their first win of the weekend in the other semi, beating Spain by the same scoreline.
Super Sunday awaits
The women’s and men’s placement matches will run from 09:30-12:56, leading up to the main event when New Zealand take on Fiji in the first women’s Cup semi-final at 13:30.
Ireland vs Australia follows at 13:52 to decide the second finalist, before the men’s Cup semi-finals take place.
Ireland face France at 14:14, and Fiji take on Samoa at 14:36.
The placement play-offs will then be decided in both competitions, before the two bronze finals kick off; the women’s is at 17:07 and the men’s at 17:29.
The Toulouse women’s champions will be crowned in the Cup final at 17:56, before the men's final concludes the weekend’s action at 18:26.