Fiji, Samoa, Ireland and Great Britain end day one of the HSBC Los Angeles Sevens with perfect win records despite severe weather conditions at Dignity Health Sports Park
An exciting set of quarter-finals awaits following a drama filled day one at the HSBC Los Angeles Sevens
Fiji, Samoa, Ireland and Great Britain end day one with perfect win records
Men’s quarter-finals: Samoa v Argentina, Fiji v South Africa, Great Britain v New Zealand, Ireland v Australia
Tournament concludes on Sunday with ninth place quarter-finals kicking off the action at 08:55 local time (GMT-8) and the Cup finals at 17:28
Most competitive Series in history with Paris 2024 Olympic qualification the prize for top four ranked teams
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 returned to action as Fiji, Samoa, Ireland and Great Britain claimed perfect win records on a rain-soaked first day at the HSBC Los Angeles Sevens in California.
Teams, staff, fans and tournament organizers battled through severe weather conditions from opening kick-off until the final whistle, including two extended breaks due to lightning in the area surrounding Dignity Health Sports Park, which caused the day to run well over its planned running time.
Day two on Sunday the men’s quarter-finals begin at 10:23 and the line-up sees Samoa v Argentina, Fiji v South Africa, Great Britain v New Zealand and Ireland v Australia.
Cape Town winners Samoa opened their tournament with a clinical 26-19 victory over hosts USA before a decisive win over invitational team Chile (31-5) and finished the day with arguably the most exciting match of the afternoon beating Series leaders New Zealand 14-7 to top Pool A. New Zealand claimed second place to secure their spot in the quarter-finals, while USA pulled off a come-from-behind win over Chile through a try at the death by Gavan D’Amore to finish third and give their home fans a thrilling ending to their day.
Dubai silver medal winners Ireland finished on top of Pool B with an undefeated record after wins over Uruguay (7-0), Canada (22-0) and South Africa (14-5). Uruguay, who defeated South Africa for the first time ever, Canada and the Blitzboks finished in a three-way tie, however the Africans would advance to the quarter-finals based on the best points differential.
Double Olympic champions Fiji got off to a flying start in Pool A with a 50-00 win over Japan before a 19-5 victory in a fierce encounter with Kenya and a last-second 15-12 win against Hong Kong champions Australia.
Kenya were cheered on by a large, colourful and vocal contingent in the crowd and did not disappoint their fans as they defeated Australia (12-7) but ultimately lost a nail-biter to Japan (7-5). Australia defeated Japan (24-10) in their second game of the day, which saw them advance to Sunday’s quarter-finals.
Fiji head coach Ben Gollings said: “We’re used to the wet and mud, but not when it’s five degrees instead of 30 so it’s a good test of all areas of our game, and to come away with three good wins like that is fantastic. From our perspective, I think the boys managed the day really well, and it sets us up for tomorrow.
“It is the most competitive season to date and everybody is vying for those four spots to automatically qualify for the Olympics which adds to how competitive it is. Every game is key because it leads to points.”
Great Britain were the form team in Pool D with three straight victories over Argentina (7-5), Spain (24-17) and France (21-14) to top the pool. Argentina secured wins against France (17-12) and Spain (19-7) to book their spot in Sunday’s cup quarter-finals.
Great Britain men’s captain Robbie Fergusson said: “We knew the weather would be a bit of a leveller at certain times and it does make it a lot of an attitude thing. So we spoke a lot about why we’re here as a group, and what we want to achieve, and a lot of today came down to attitude and I think you saw it in that last game. Argentina are one of the best teams in the world right now, France are regularly a top four team so we knew what we had to do this weekend.
“We’re slowly building as a group and I think getting better every tournament and other teams are starting to notice that as well.”
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 year’s pinnacle event in the nation’s capital.
The Men’s Series has seen nine different teams reach the Cup Semi-Final stage, with all nine nations medaling across the first five tournaments. There have been five different gold medal winners (Australia, Samoa, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand), four different silver medalists (Fiji, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand twice) and four bronze medalists (France, New Zealand, Fiji and USA twice).
New Zealand currently sit atop the Series standings with 85 points, followed by South Africa at 76 points and five nations (Samoa, France, Fiji, Argentina and USA) are separated by just two points between 68 and 66 in the race for the final two spots for Paris 2024.
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 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2024 while the 12th through 14th ranked teams will face off against the Challenger Series 2023 winner for the 12th and final position on the 2024 Series.
Finals day on Sunday begins with the ninth place quarter-final at 08:55 local time (GMT-8) and concludes with the cup final at 17:28.
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.
Remaining tickets are available at: LA Sevens Rugby | Tickets