April 12, 2024

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Argentina, New Zealand and USA were the big winners on the road to Paris

Argentina, New Zealand and USA were the big winners on the road to Paris

After an exciting HSBC New Zealand Sevens, we look at how the standings have progressed in the race for Olympic qualification.

The road to the 2024 Paris Olympics took another turn after the HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton.

New Zealand is currently at the top of the rankings HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Both the men’s and women’s are after four and three matches respectively as they prepare to play in Sydney this weekend.

Over the Black Ferns Sevens, USA advances
The Black Ferns Sevens welcomed four champions Rugby World Cup 2021 Each played a key role in the team’s second consecutive gold medal for their first home tournament since 2020.

Stacey Fluehler scored six tries, while Portia Woodman-Wycliffe crossed for four, but it was Michaela Blight who grabbed the headlines again when she finished the match with 10 tries.

Three of them beat the USA 33-7 in the final, resulting in New Zealand taking a four-point lead over Australia, who won the bronze medal in Hamilton and are top of the rankings after three events.

The USA, the runner-up, will be playing in its first final since winning in Malaga in January, heading to Sydney with two bronze medals and a silver at the 2023 series. Crucially, they now have 12 points in the race for a place in Paris. An improvement over fourth-placed Ireland and 16 points clear of fifth-placed France, who automatically qualify as hosts.

The top four finishers in the men’s and women’s standings at the end of the 2023 series will earn tickets to the 2024 Olympic Games.

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On Sunday, the United States beat Fiji in the quarter-finals before Cheta Mba’s efforts and Sammy Sullivan sealed a 10-7 semi-final victory over 2022 series winners Australia.

Hosts New Zealand showed superiority in the final, but coach Emily Bidwell is pleased with how her team has developed in the first three matches of the season.

“We’re very pleased with the progress shown over the weekend,” Bydwell said. “We’ve come away from the last two matches knowing where we need to improve and delivering in those areas at the weekend is a positive.”

“However, the best part is that we know there are still areas where we can be more consistent and we are delighted to be playing in the final and will now focus on the next steps in our progress.”

Great Britain began their quest for Olympic qualification in Hamilton by beating Japan in the fifth-place play-off.

They are now sixth in the women’s rankings, 10 points behind fourth-placed Ireland with four matches to play. Fiji are two points behind, while Japan’s best performance in the series is sixth, now eighth with 15 points, the same as Spain.

Argentina is progressing

The race for a top-four finish and a place at Paris 2024 is even tighter in the men’s series.

Argentina’s gold medal move to third place with 59 points, after their long-awaited victory in Vancouver last year.

The Pumas Sevens overcame a 12-0 deficit against the hosts to win the final 14-12 at the FMG Stadium in dramatic fashion.

“Obviously winning is fantastic and to do it in New Zealand is doubly worth it,” Argentina coach Santiago Gomez Cora said.

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“But the most beautiful and important thing is that this is the third year that this team has been competitive. As we said last year, the aim was to secure a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, this historical milestone is not a weight.

“The team’s goal was to ensure a good year in 2022 and 2023.

“This team is doubling down and going further. It speaks highly of the work the players put in every day. We are happy and proud of this team,” he said.

The Pumas Sevens are now four points clear at the top, held by the team who beat New Zealand in the final, and two points clear of fourth-placed South Africa.

The Blitzboks were joint top of the weekend on points with Samoa, but a quarter-final loss to France and a semi-final loss to fifth-placed Ireland saw them drop down the rankings.

Samoa, meanwhile, had to settle for ninth place and are now fifth in the standings, two points behind South Africa.

Due to the competitive nature of the men’s 2023 series, only eleven points separate fourth-placed Blitzboks (57) and ninth-placed Ireland (46), meaning the fight for Olympic qualification and the title itself should continue into the second half of the season.

It certainly sets things up for the HSBC Sydney Sevens, which kicks off at Allianz Stadium on Friday.

Credits: UAR