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Who will win the 2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Sevens series?

by Staff writer
29 May 2019 at 19:17hrs | Views
Fiji climbed to the top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens table this week by winning the London Sevens for the second year running. They secured a thumping 43-7 victory over USA at Twickenham and that saw them leapfrog USA, who beat France 31-14 in the bronze final.

The final four has now been locked in and Fiji, USA, New Zealand, and South Africa have all sewn up automatic qualification for the 2020 Olympics. The final leg takes place in Paris next week and all that remains to be decided is the small matter of crowning a 2018-19 champion.

The odds at the most respected betting sites covering rugby make Fiji the narrow favourites to seize glory. But the USA still have a great chance of toppling them, as they are just two points behind Gareth Baber's men. Whoever prevails in Paris will take 22 points, with 19 points going to the runner-up, so it really could come down to the finest of margins.

Fiji now leads the way on 164 points and the USA are on 162. New Zealand are on 143 and could still prevail if both teams above them utterly flop, but that is highly unlikely. South Africa complete the top four with 131 points, and then it is a 22-point drop to fifth-placed England, who are on 109.

The English lost 24-19 to Samoa in the Challenge Trophy quarter-finals and then suffered defeat at the hands of Japan in the 13th place play-off in front of their home fans this week. South Africa lost both games at the weekend but still managed to scrape through to the Olympics in Japan next year due to England's struggles. Teams have further opportunities to reach the 2020 Games via regional qualifying later this year.

Zimbabwe are languishing near the bottom of the table, having picked up just two points all season. They have gone seven rounds without scoring a point, so they will need to generate a drastic improvement if they are to muscle their way into the Olympics picture.

Right now Fiji are surging with momentum and they will head into the finale in Paris full of confidence after their victory in England. Vilimoni Botitu set his side off to a flying start and the Australians had no answer to their quality passing at the iconic Twickenham Stadium. Aminiasi Tuimaba scored a hat-trick before the break and Fiji ended up scoring seven tries in an utter rout.

"Obviously we found it tough in the first four or five minutes when Australia put something in - we knew they're a good side and a tough side to play against – so we knew that we needed to get some scores on the board, and we did it with some style," said Baber.

"It's not just down to the boys and the staff who are here but it's down to everyone back home in Fiji too. The supporters here have been fantastic all weekend – we thank them all and we hope that they continue to do it."

The USA have been consistent throughout the season, and they took 17 points for finishing third in London. Yet they have finally relinquished the lead of the league table and that is a result of Fiji's relentless brilliance.

The USA took four silvers in a row to begin the season and then seized gold on the fifth round of action in front of home fans in Las Vegas. However, since then they have gone slightly off the boil, finishing third twice and fourth twice, and that has allowed Fiji to edge in front ahead of the final burst of action. That has tied things up for a thrilling denouement in France and it will be fascinating to see who triumphs.

Source - Byo24News
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