Fijians end season in style to reclaim 7s world title

Fiji's Jerry Tuwai (left) is pursued by Ngarohi McGarvey Black of New Zealand during the Paris Sevens final. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Fiji's Jerry Tuwai (left) is pursued by Ngarohi McGarvey Black of New Zealand during the Paris Sevens final. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Olympic champions Fiji captured their third World Rugby Sevens Series title in five years on Sunday by winning the season-ending tournament in Paris.

They defeated series runners-up the United States 33-14 in the semi-finals to ensure they would finish as champions before celebrating their triumph in style by beating New Zealand 35-24 in the final.

Napolioni Bolaca scored two tries and kicked five conversions for Fiji, who got off to a blistering 21-0 start and did not let up against the Kiwis.

It was a fifth victory this season for the Fijians in the 10-legged competition, giving them a fourth overall title, after wins in 2006, 2015 and 2016.

Fiji captain Josua Vakurunabili said he told his teammates to "make people back home and your family proud".

He added: "In the huddle, I said to the boys, 'If you want to be a history maker don't let this moment pass you'."

His team had finished second a year ago after slipping up in the final round at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris, allowing South Africa to pip them to the title.

But this time, they ensured there was no repeat in sweltering conditions in the French capital, sweeping the hosts aside 24-5 in the quarter-finals to underline their intent at the start of the final day.

After the Singapore leg in April, Fiji were second in the standings and trailed the US by three points. Wins in London and Paris saw them overhaul the Americans to finish on 186 points, nine clear of the US.

"To round it off as we did is pretty special," said Fiji coach Gareth Baber.

"Last year we came here and we were further in front, but we did not have the wherewithal to finish it off. That was quite painful.

"It's all credit to everybody back home, they have supported us and kept patient.

"But, most of all to the staff and the quality outfit that we have playing for us."

The top four teams in the series standings - Fiji, US, New Zealand and South Africa - qualify automatically for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Japan were relegated from the circuit after finishing 15th overall, with Wales holding on to the final place among the elite top-14 nations.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2019, with the headline 'Fijians end season in style to reclaim 7s world title'. Print Edition | Subscribe