Australia men’s sevens captain Nick Malouf couldn’t hold back the tears as the magnitude of his side’s win in London in the penultimate leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 sunk in.
Having lost 24-19 to New Zealand in the opening match of the weekend in Pool C, Australia overturned the result when it mattered most to beat the All Black Sevens 19-14 in a thrilling final.
It was Australia’s first Cup title in London since 2010 and their first gold medal in the Series overall since 2018.
“I’m so proud of the performance from our boys. We spoke about getting to work today, and putting in a tradesman-like performance,” an emotional Malouf said after the final whistle at Twickenham.
“Some of the efforts all over the field, throughout the day, I couldn’t be prouder of the efforts. We’ve worked so hard for this and I’m glad we’ve finally got the reward I feel we deserve.”
Countdown to LA
With 22 points gained and World Series leaders South Africa and fellow title rivals Argentina falling well short of reaching the podium, Australia head to Los Angeles in August knowing a first-ever World Series title is within their grasp.
Australia are just two points behind the Springbok Sevens in the World Series standings and four ahead of Los Pumas Sevens.
“We’ve still got LA to go, but it’s a good result for all the hard work that we’re putting in,” added Malouf.
“This is the first Cup final I’ve won, and I think anyone in this group has won. We looked at some photos of ‘Chucky’ (former captain James Stannard) winning it in 2010 during the week so we knew it was possible, but to come out here and make it happen is incredible.”
Not surprisingly hat-trick hero Henry Paterson was named Player of the Final. “I’m just stoked, over the moon. It was a full team performance, we all chipped in and luckily got there in the end,” he said.
Crunch encounter awaits
Other than Fiji who has won two titles and medalled in the others, Australia have been the form team in the second half of the World Series.
Crucially they have accumulated more points over the last four rounds than South Africa, who have led the standings from the word go, and an Argentinean team also bidding to win their first World Series.
The draw for Los Angeles has paired Australia and Argentina in Pool A with South Africa having to face the might of the fast-improving All Blacks Sevens in Pool B.
Argentina came out on top the last time the teams met, winning the fifth-place semi-final in Toulouse 22-7, and a repeat of that result would put a serious dent in Australia’s title hopes.
Spain and Japan are the other teams in Pool A and Australia and Argentina will be expected to beat both.
Australia won 38-0 when they last faced Spain in Vancouver in April, while they brushed Japan aside 42-0 in Malaga back in January.