- Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand lead women’s pools with pair of opening day victories
- Payton Spencer, 18-year-old son of All Black legend Carlos Spencer stars with a two-try debut in New Zealand win over Uruguay
- Hosts Australia are the reigning men’s and women’s Series champions while rivals New Zealand lead the current Series standings
- The action continues from 09:00 local time (GMT+11) on Saturday with the remaining pool matches followed by the quarter-finals, before the medals are decided on Sunday
- Most competitive Series to date with Paris 2024 Olympic qualification at stake for top four ranked teams
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series returned to Sydney for the first time since 2020 on Friday with an opening day full of big comebacks, top tries and a debut to remember.
The women’s teams played two matches each while the first round of men’s fixtures was completed as the three-day HSBC Sydney Sevens event got under way at Allianz Stadium.
Australia are the reigning men’s and women’s Series champions and are determined to put on a good show in front of their supporters.
The all-conquering Australia women’s team claimed opening day victories over Brazil (28-12) and Spain (46-0), which included four tries for the seemingly unstoppable Maddison Levi, taking her overall tally for the Series to 30.
Australia women’s co-captain Demi Hayes said: “We’ve built momentum over our two games today – it’s only going to get better from here. We’ve loved playing on home soil and we can’t wait to show a big Saturday crowd what we can do tomorrow.”
New Zealand lead the women’s Series standings and the Black Ferns Sevens won both of their opening games to take command of Pool A.
Great Britain are top of Pool B thanks to impressive wins over Fiji and Canada while Ireland are hot on Australia’s heels in Pool C with a pair of victories against Brazil and Spain with both teams guaranteed a place in Saturday’s quarter-finals.
The All Blacks Sevens, who also went to Sydney at the top of the standings, made short work of Uruguay in their opening fixture.
Payton Spencer announced his arrival on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a two-try debut as New Zealand overpowered their South American opponents 45-7. Spencer, the 18-year-old son of former All Black legend Carlos Spencer, looked very much at ease on the big stage and was heavily involved throughout.
While Spencer is at the start of his journey, Kenya’s Willy Ambaka ran out for what will be his 58th and final Series tournament.
Following Collins Injera’s decision to retire, Ambaka, 32, announced this week that he would also be retiring post-Sydney after 13 years at the top.
“Willy’s been a colossus,” reflected Kenya head coach Damian McGrath. “He’s going to leave a big hole and someone is going to have to step up and fill it.”
Kenya could not mark the occasion with a win, losing out to continental rivals South Africa, who sit behind the All Blacks Sevens at the top of Pool B on points difference.
Hot from their title win in Hamilton last weekend, Argentina had to find all their resolve to avoid a shock against Canada and they lead Pool A along with Australia who had to come from behind to beat Great Britain 12-7 and get their campaign off to a winning start.
Samoa beat Ireland in the first men’s game of the day and are top of Pool C with the USA, comfortable winners over Spain.
Fiji and France took early control of Pool D with wins, one far more comfortable than the other, with Les Bleus Sevens given an almighty scare by Japan.
The action continues from 09:00 local time (GMT+11) on Saturday with the remaining pool matches followed by the quarter-finals at 17:54. The event concludes on Sunday when the podium positions will be decided.
Remaining tickets are available at https://www.sydney7s.com.au/tickets
The 2023 Series is shaping up to be the most competitive in history with the prize of Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification on offer for the top four women’s and men’s teams in the 2023 Series standings, while hosts France have pre-qualified for next summer’s pinnacle event in the nation’s capital.
The Men’s Series has seen four different gold medal winners (Argentina, Australia, Samoa and South Africa) in the four rounds to date while New Zealand, Australia and the USA have claimed all the medals in the first three rounds of the women’s competition.
New Zealand lead the men’s Series standings on 63 points with USA second on 61 points and Argentina third on 59 points. In the women’s standings the Black Ferns Sevens are top on 58 points, ahead of Australia on 54 points and USA with 50 points.
The stakes couldn’t be higher at the bottom end of the men’s Series this season as well. Following the penultimate event in Toulouse, the 15th ranked team will be relegated to the 2024 Sevens Challenger Series while the 12th through 14th ranked teams will face off against the Sevens Challenger Series 2023 winner for the 12th and final position on the 2024 Series.
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream on World Rugby digital platforms including www.world.rugby, You Tube and Facebook in countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.