New Zealand won the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens and qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on a pulsating second day at Singapore Sports Hub.
Brady Rush scored the decisive try in the Cup final against Argentina as the All Blacks Sevens secured their first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title in Singapore since 2005.
Samoa’s Cup semi-final defeat to Argentina meant the All Blacks Sevens were already assured of their place in Paris before taking the field for their last-four match against Fiji.
Buoyed by becoming the first men’s team other than hosts France to book their ticket to the Games, New Zealand won their semi-final 19-10 to set up a third gold medal match of the 2023 Series against Los Pumas Sevens.
The teams’ 2023 Cup final head-to-head was tied at 1-1 going into the showpiece match in Singapore, but it was New Zealand who started fastest as they stormed into a 12-0 lead.
However, the All Blacks Sevens conceded a try to Joaquin Pellandini and then, with Dylan Collier in the sin-bin, allowed German Schulz to narrow that advantage to just two points.
Rush, though, capitalised on an errant Argentine lineout to stretch New Zealand’s lead beyond a converted try with less than six minutes left.
Los Pumas Sevens pushed hard for a third try but by the time it came, through Marcos Moneta, it had no impact on the result and the All Blacks Sevens could celebrate a second tournament title in as many weeks.
“All the boys know that we represent our families, our friends and everyone back in New Zealand,” Collier said. “It was a huge effort these last two weeks and to go back-to-back is just an awesome effort.”
Victory stretches New Zealand’s lead at the top of the standings to 24 points. With a maximum of 42 available in Toulouse and London, it means the All Blacks Sevens would tie up the overall Series title if they reach the Cup final in France next month.
Fiji comeback extends Samoa’s long wait for bronze
Fiji recovered from going 19-7 behind to beat Samoa 24-19 and claim the bronze medal at the Singapore Sports Hub.
Samoa had beaten Fiji 28-7 on day one and looked set to win a first Series bronze medal final since Port Elizabeth in December 2013 as Vaa Apelu Maliko helped inspire his side into a 12-point lead.
However, tries from Iowane Teba and Joseva Talacolo levelled the scores before Tuna Tuitama received a late yellow card and Terio Tamani Veilawa took full advantage, scoring his second try of the match to confirm victory for Fiji.
The result maintains Fiji’s slim hopes of winning the overall Series title while Samoa – who have now lost 10 successive Series bronze medal finals – are one point and a place outside of the Olympic qualification spots.
“My heart’s taken a hammering this week. Credit to the boys, they stuck at it,” Fiji coach Ben Gollings said.
“We controlled it a lot better, we got the energy going at the end and got the victory we needed. It’s so key for points in this crazy Series we’re in at the moment.”
Australia secure “valuable” points in Olympic bid
Australia secured a 24-21 fifth-place play-off victory against Great Britain to ensure they occupy the fourth and final Olympic qualification place with two tournaments to play.
John Manenti’s side lost to Argentina in the Cup quarter-finals but recovered to beat Uruguay and set up an encounter with Great Britain, who gained revenge for defeat to France in the bronze medal final last weekend by beating Les Bleus Sevens in the fifth-place semi-final.
Australia led the fifth-place play-off from the third minute and Dietrich Roache was the star of the show as he notched a try, two conversions and assisted the first of Darby Lancaster’s two touchdowns.
“It’s getting pretty tight for that last [Olympic] qualification spot,” Australia captain Nick Malouf said. “Every point is valuable for us.”
Spain finish ninth, USA claim 13th
Spain will head to Toulouse a point from safety after tries from Nicolas Nieto, Jaime Mata, Manu Moreno and Alejandro Laforgo gave them a 26-10 ninth-place play-off win against Kenya.
Having missed out on the Cup quarter-finals, Los Leones Sevens won all three matches on day two – beating the USA and South Africa to set up one final match against Kenya.
Two tries in each half completed a perfect second day and ensured they will line up in Toulouse on 48 points, a point behind 11th-placed Uruguay in the standings and a spot in the 2024 Series.
Perry Baker was the hero for the USA, scoring in the final play of the 13th-place play-off to hand his side a 22-17 win against Canada.
The Eagles Sevens were heading towards a third defeat in Singapore until Baker emerged from the bench to score two late tries and stretch the USA’s Series winning streak against their North American rivals to eight matches.