Fiji extends HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series lead to 14 points
At the end of a thrilling weekend of upsets at an electric Stade Jean Bouin, Samoa came back from 26-7 down against Fiji to win an incredible final 29-26 and claim the HSBC Paris Sevens.
It is Samoa’s first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup win since December 2012 in Dubai and gives them confidence and momentum heading into the final round in London, and the Olympic repechage qualifier in Monaco on 18-19 June.
Fiji dominated the opening 10 minutes of the final and led 26-7 at the break through tries by Isake Katonibau, Leone Nakarawa and Jerry Tuwai (2). But Belgium Tuatagaloa clawed one back and after the break Tila Mealoi (2) and Siaosi Asofolau brought the Samoans roaring back before captain Faalemiga Selesele’s try capped a remarkable comeback.
“It’s a huge surprise, especially after Fiji were so strong against us yesterday (winning 42-5). We wanted to get some pride back and we did that,” said Samoa coach Damian McGrath. “At half time I said if we get the first score we can get back into this. Self belief is a huge thing, and they believed in themselves.”
Despite the loss, Fiji have taken a giant step towards securing the overall 2015-16 series title. They now lead the standings by 14 points ahead of South Africa with just one round remaining, the HSBC London Sevens at Twickenham next weekend.
Inspired by their latest national treasure, Virimi Vakatawa, hosts France delighted the strong crowd over the three days, losing only their Cup semi final to Fiji and finishing strongly to beat Argentina to third place. South Africa overcame Australia to claim the plate, Scotland beat England to the bowl and Portugal won the shield, their first silverware of the season.
Commenting on the series’ return to Paris, HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events Giles Morgan said: “It has been exciting for rugby sevens to return to Paris for the first time since 2006. With only three months until the sport makes its Olympic debut, the HSBC Paris Sevens gives a city with a such a rich Olympic heritage the perfect opportunity to put on a festival of rugby and show off what we believe will be one of the star attractions in Rio.”