Camou's cool head as France win first cup

The France Development Team celebrating their first Ablitt Cup yesterday after an extra-time 24-21 victory over Fiji's Daveta at the Padang. Romaric Camou scored the decisive penalty in the first minute of extra time.
The France Development Team celebrating their first Ablitt Cup yesterday after an extra-time 24-21 victory over Fiji's Daveta at the Padang. Romaric Camou scored the decisive penalty in the first minute of extra time.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Development side make history with Ablitt trophy, St Andrew's lift the Len Foster Cup

The boos rang out from sections of the 4,500-capacity crowd at the Padang yesterday evening, as Romaric Camou lined up to restart play in the Ablitt Cup final between the France Development Team and Daveta.

The final had ended 21-21 in regulation time, and the team to score first in five minutes of extra time would lift the Cup in the 70th edition of the Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens.

Within the first minute of added time, the referee awarded France a penalty 25m out. Camou, 21, coolly stepped up and converted the penalty, as his jubilant team-mates mobbed him.

"I heard the boos, but for me, there was no stress (in taking the kick)," Camou told The Straits Times after the 24-21 win.

"This team had just two months of training (before the SCC Sevens), but everyone bonded really well and we are all good friends."

Six-time Ablitt Cup winners Daveta of Fiji were the favourites going into the final, after notching up big wins against the likes of the Swedish Vikings (42-0), Cottesloe (43-0) and Tamariva Rugby Football Club (54-0) earlier in the tournament.

The Fijians took the lead within 90 seconds, with Daveta captain Sakiusa Gavidi capitalising on a defensive error to score a try.

But the French hit back with tries and conversions from captain Thomas Hecquet, Gabin Viliere and Guillaume Manevy to go into the break 21-7 up.

Gavidi, 25, said: "We went into this match high on confidence but after our first try, we gave them some easy balls.

"At half-time, I told the boys that there were still seven minutes more to go, that it was a long time and not to give up."

His pep talk worked, as Daveta tightened up their passing and defensive work to deny France any space in the second half.

Lemeki Tulele scored with under three minutes left on the clock to reduce the deficit to 14-21 and equalised in the last play in regulation time.

But it was not enough, as Camou won France its first Ablitt Cup in extra time.

Hecquet said: "It was a big, big battle and we were proud to win. A penalty kick is not a very nice way to do it, but it was a final, and we were obliged to go for the win."

Earlier yesterday, St Andrew's Secondary School beat Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) 36-5 in the Under-14 final to win the Len Foster Cup, while Tanglin Trust School beat the United World College (D) in both the U-16 and U-19 finals, by 19-7 and 22-21 respectively.

Of their win, Saints captain Lucius Yau, 14, said: "We were surprised at the result. We thought it would be a close match.

"We messed up our tackles and communication in the first half... second half, we just went all out; I told the boys that they could do it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2017, with the headline 'Camou's cool head as France win first cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe