The HSBC France Sevens and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 will come to a climax on Sunday after another gripping day of action at the Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse on Saturday which saw the women’s and men’s semi-final line ups confirmed and Argentina men qualify for Paris 2024. Hosts France men and women through to final-four.
- Tokyo 2020 silver-medallists Argentina men officially qualify for Paris 2024, joining hosts France and Series leaders New Zealand
- Women’s semi-final line ups: Australia v USA, New Zealand v France
- Men’s semi-finals: Canada v Argentina, New Zealand v France
- Canada men upset Australia to clinch first semi-final berth since HSBC Canada Sevens 2021 in Edmonton
- Japan relegated from men’s 2024 Series
- Uruguay and Spain men both qualify for ninth place semi-finals setting up a last-gasp battle to secure 2024 Series position
- Fiji and Ireland still battling for final women’s Paris 2024 spot
- Finals day on Sunday sees the women’s semi-finals at 09:44 local time (GMT+2) and the men’s semi-finals at 13:32, with the women’s and men’s cup finals at 17:26 and 17:56 respectively
The HSBC France Sevens and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 will come to a climax on Sunday after another gripping day of action at the Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse on Saturday which saw the women’s and men’s semi-final line ups confirmed and Argentina men qualify for Paris 2024.
Under sun-soaked skies in the south of France, hoards of fervent rugby sevens supporters were treated to a day of upsets, thrills, come-from-behind victories, an Olympic qualification and hosts France men’s and women’s teams claiming four-from-four victories to secure double semi-final berths on Sunday.
The Stade Ernest-Wallon was buzzing on Saturday as the home side, having recovered from a loss against Ireland in pool play, managed to reach the top-four after a convincing win against Great Britain in the quarter-final and an earlier win over Australia.
They will play against Series champions New Zealand, who beat Japan 29-7 in the last game of the women’s competition.
The opening semi-final on Sunday sees a battle between the second and third placed teams in the Series this season, Australia and the United States, who have both qualified for Paris 2024.
Australia recovered from their earlier loss to France to end the pool stages to beat Ireland 17-7 in the opening quarter-final. The Aussies controlled much of the game and were leading 17-0 going into the final seconds, following a first minute try by Teagan Levi and a second-half brace from Bienne Terita, before Eve Higgins found the space to break free and score a consolation try for the Irish.
USA then managed to beat Fiji 22-17 to secure their spot in the final-four on finals day. It was a four-try win in which they always led and Fiji failed to chase until the end, despite twelve points from Reapi Ulunisau as she scored a late brace and a conversion.
In the battle for the final women’s Paris 2024 Olympics spot, it all comes down to tomorrow for two nations – Ireland and Fiji – and there are multiple scenarios of who could book their ticket to next year’s pinnacle event in Paris.
If Ireland beat Fiji, Ireland will qualify for Paris 2024. However, if Fiji beat Ireland, and then beat Great Britain, they will qualify for Paris 2024.
If Fiji beat Ireland, but are defeated by Great Britain, it will end up a three-way tie on Series points and be decided by points for and against, which is currently led by Fiji with +62 leading into the final day of action.
Canada, in preparation to play in next week’s four-team World Rugby Sevens Series 2024 Play-off at the HSBC London Sevens, secured an unlikely semi-final spot beating Australia thanks to their strong defence in the final minutes.
They will play Argentina, who earlier in the day became the third team to secure their ticket for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, beating Great Britain 55-0 at the end of pool play. The win also denied the All Blacks Sevens the chance of securing the 2023 Series on Saturday.
“It is incredible; we set that goal (Olympic Qualification) at the start of the season, and it took a big effort from the team and the staff so very happy,” said Marcos Moneta after the game.
Architect of qualification is coach Santiago Gómez Cora: “Happiness is our first feeling, pride on the work done and joy at knowing we’ll have an extra month off,” he said of not needing to go through the regional qualification process.
“This shows that you are allowed to dream. We are happy of where we are, but we will chase more.”
The second semi-final will see New Zealand, who blanked Ireland 35-0 in their quarter-final, face France, who scored at the death to defeat Great Britain to book their spot in the final four and ensure the stadium will be loud come semi-finals’ time tomorrow.
It was France’s Varian Pasquet who scored the winning try 80 seconds into injury time to start the huge celebrations for the faithful Les Bleus supporters.
“It is always amazing to play at home, the first time for me here in front of family and friends,” said the try-scorer.
“We know them (the All Blacks Sevens) very well. We came close in Hong Kong and this time we will have the crowd behind us.”
The stakes are also high at the bottom of the table. With the number of teams reduced to 12 in the new Series format in 2024, the first 11 teams at the end of this weekend will secure their place for next year; those finishing between 12th and 14th will meet in London in a week’s time, where they will be joined by Tonga as winners of World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023.
Japan, winless through the pool stages in Toulouse, officially finished 15th among core teams this weekend, meaning they have been relegated from the Series for next season.
The battle for the 11th spot and therefore avoiding next weekend’s World Rugby Sevens Series 2024 Play-off, however, couldn’t be tighter. With wins over Japan and USA respectively, Uruguay and Spain qualified for the 9th place semi-finals on day two and will meet Fiji and Samoa.
If both Spain and Uruguay lose, then Uruguay will qualify for 2024 Series and Spain will compete in next weekend’s play-off event in London. In the scenario of both Uruguay and Spain winning against Fiji and Samoa, the two nations will face each other in the 9th place final later in the day. In that game if Uruguay win they qualify for 2024 Series. If Spain win, they will end equal on Series points, but Spain would win on points for and against.
If one team loses and the other wins the 9th place semi-final, the winning team will qualify for 2024 Series and the losing team will compete in the play-off event next weekend.
Play gets under way at 09:00 local time (GMT+2) on Sunday before the semi-finals start at 13:32. The women’s and men’s cup finals kick off at 17:26 and 17:56 respectively.
Tickets for the final day of the HSBC France Sevens are available at www.francesevens.fr.
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream www.world.rugby in countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series arrives in Toulouse at a very exciting time for rugby in France as the country is set to host Rugby World Cup 2023 ahead of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 next summer.
With the women’s series concluding on Sunday, participating teams present in Toulouse will attend the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Awards in the evening to recognise and celebrate the achievements of those involved in the 2023 competition. The men’s ceremony will take place next weekend after the HSBC London Sevens. – WORLD RUGBY