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Mon, 3 June 2019

Fiji Beat New Zealand to Win Paris 7s; Secure 4th World Series Title

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was decided on the final day of the series as Fiji beat the USA in the Cup semi-finals to secure a fourth world series title.

Fiji went into this last stop of the series in Paris already two points ahead of the USA, and marched on to cap their series-clinching day with the tournament victory after beating New Zealand 35-24 in the Cup Final.

After losing their last two Cup Finals on French soil, against France in 2005 and Samoa in 2016, Fiji scored their first points in this yearís final after just 30 seconds. Napolioni Bolacaís try was converted and then quickly added to by Meli Derenalagi.

Fiji went into this last stop of the series in Paris already two points ahead of the USA, and marched on to cap their series-clinching day with the tournament victory after beating New Zealand 35-24 in the Cup Final. Picture from HK7s 2019 by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

The freshly crowned series winners kept their foot firmly on the gas as the HSBC Player of the Final Bolaca accumulated 18 of their 28 first-half points. With a 28-7 lead, they plumped their cushion further before New Zealand's response arrived. Regan Ware crossed twice for the All Blacks Sevens and Dylan Collier added another try to produce the final 35-24 scoreline.

"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," said Fiji Head Coach, Gareth Baber, who received the UL Mark of Excellence after the Cup Final for the seasonís work. "I thought that the back end of the season, carrying on from Hong Kong with Singapore, London last week and to round it off as we did, is pretty special. Itís all credit to everybody back home in Fiji, everybody who has supported us and kept patient. But, most of all to the staff and the quality outfit that we have playing for us."

The USA had never finished higher than fifth in the world series standings but their standout season, which included seven podium finishes and reaching every Cup semi-final, saw them secure second position in the final standings and fourth place in Paris.

Mike Fridayís side were beaten 24-7 in the bronze final by a powerful performance from South Africa. Despite the loss of both the bronze medal and the world series title, the head coach was full of praise of his teamís work and fortitude.

"I'm immensely proud of the character and where weíve come as a group," said Friday. "To break through that glass ceiling of the top four and push the world series right to the penultimate game is a credit to the way that the boys have approached and delivered this season. But thereís still some learnings for us which is a good thing, it means that thereís growth. If there is growth there is potential and we can kick on and hopefully learn from these mistakes to make us better for next year."

Beaten Cup finalists at the Stade Jean-Bouin, New Zealand finished third in the overall standings with Andrew Knewstubb ending the 10 rounds as the top points-scorer on the world series.

In all, the final day of action at the Stade Jean-Bouin was a fitting finale to an incredible season and one that saw Fiji, New Zealand, the USA and South Africa all qualify for next yearís Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Japan, the side that finished 15th in the world series standings and lost their place as a core team for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020, will also be at the Olympics as host nation.

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, 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, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.

See latest HD Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: Rugby, Sevens, Paris, France, Fiji.

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