Tokyo Rugby Sevens Round-Up
Following on from the previous action in Hong Kong, last weekend saw players remain in Asia as Tokyo took centre stage with the Sevens World Series reaching round seven and the business end of the competition. Going into the tournament and New Zealand held a commanding lead, with fellow Pacific Islanders, Fiji and Samoa, also chasing hard for top positions come the end of the season.
In last years Tokyo Sevens, it was Australia who emerged as the surprised package and surpassed all expectations to claim the title with the very last kick of the game. This year proved to be just as exciting and proved that New Zealand are far from having it all their own way with a number of countries rising to the occasion.
Living up to their pre-tournament billing as favourites for Tokyo silverware, it was unsurprising that the Kiwis made it through to the Cup Final. Having disposed of last years winners, Australia, in the semi-finals, it was South Africa who would provide stern opposition in the final. After racing to a commanding 12-0 lead at half-time, New Zealand somehow self-destructed and saw victory slip through their fingers as South Africa mounted an incredible comeback to record a 24-19 win and claim their second title of the season.
The two beaten semi-finalists, Australia and France, battled it out for Third Place and saw the southern hemisphere emerge victorious 31-7. Australia once again proving that Tokyo seems to be their favourite place for collecting trophies on the Sevens World Series.
Elsewhere and the USA scored an impressive victory, their best result of the season, by defeating Scotland 17-0 in the Plate Final and England claimed their second consecutive Bowl with a resounding 38-0 win against Argentina. Rounding up the honours and Canada defeated Japan 27-14 as they strengthened their top 12 position in the overall standings.
After a month break, the penultimate stage of the Sevens World Series sees the teams and their supporters travel to Scotland in early May. The spiritual home of Rugby Sevens, Montrose is where it all began in 1883 and is likely to see the crowning of the 2013 Champions. Mathematically only four nations can still claim overall victory and it is hard to see past New Zealand emerging with title number eleven, although Fiji, Samoa and France will certainly be looking to finish as high up the standings as possible.
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