The France Development Team, playing in its first
tournament together as a team, upset hot favourites and six-time
champions Daveta from Fiji 24-21 to win the Ablitt Cup with a
dramatic sudden-death penalty at the 70th Singapore Cricket Club
International Rugby Sevens.
The young French side
comprising of players mostly below 23 years old were up against an
experienced Daveta side and it was the Fijians who raced into an
early 7-0 lead through a converted try from Daveta captain Sakiusa
Gavidi. However the France Development Team led by diminutive
captain Thomas Hecquet stepped up their game and scored three
converted tries in quick succession to end the first half with a
well deserved 21-7 lead. The 20-year-old French captain ran the Daveta defence ragged and scored the first two tries for his side
before teammate Gabin Viliere added a third just before the break.
Daveta began to show their flair and power to narrow the score
down to 14-21 through speedster Lemeki Tulele in the second half.
The French side then lost their influential captain Hecquet to
injury while Viliere was sent to the sin bin. Playing with one
extra man advantage, Daveta managed to tie the scores at 21-21
seconds before the final whistle through Tulele.
The Ablitt Cup final went into extra time and the French side soon
earned a penalty outside the Daveta 22 just forty seconds in.
Romaric Camou became an instant French hero when he calmly
converted the winning ‘golden score’ penalty from 25 metres.
“It was a tough final and we were the underdogs
against a strong and experienced Daveta side,” said 20-year-old
Hecquet. “We played very well in the first half to take the lead
after an early mistake. In the second half, we had a player sent
off and it allowed the Fijians to come back to tie the game. I
know some spectators would have preferred that we scored a winning
try instead of a winning penalty, but it's the final and we have
worked hard to win this tournament. This is a big win for a very
young team playing in its first tournament.
“We are disappointed to
lose by a sudden-death penalty kick, but credit to the France
Development Team for their strong performance,” said captain Sakiusa Gavidi. “Daveta will definitely be back again next year.
Personally, I wanted to complete a hat-trick of titles this year,
having won here in 2011 and 2012, but it was not to be. We will
come back stronger next year.”
Before the dramatic
Ablitt Cup final, East Arnhem beat Singapore Barbarians 26-24 to
win the Bowl final after the Singapore side failed to convert a
last second try. Cottesloe claimed the Plate after beating host
side Singapore Cricket Club 19-14 while Casaurina Cougars beat the
Swedish Viking 21-19 to lift the Shield.
Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015,
Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong
Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015,
Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013,
of Chartis Cup 2012 and
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.
See other recent