Fiji successfully defend rugby sevens world series title
LONDON — Fiji won successive rugby sevens world series titles when it beat Australia 26-0 in its last pool match to reach the London quarterfinals at Twickenham on Saturday.
Fiji needed only to make the playoffs, which it hasn't missed this season, but put it in doubt after losing a nervy opening pool match to England 31-10. The Fijians took out their frustration on Wales, 42-5, then swatted aside Australia, fourth overall in the standings.
That ensured they finished second to unbeaten England in their pool, and couldn't be caught by second-place South Africa in the season standings. Fiji clinched its third crown in the series' 17-year history.
"That performance against Australia was unbelievable," Fiji coach Ben Ryan said. "Our defence was just fantastic. I said to the boys, they weren't just tackles, they were tackles from the heart. They were a brilliant 14 minutes of rugby from our boys."
With nine points against Australia, captain Osea Kolinisau became the 14th man to pass 1,000 points in series history, and the second Fijian after Waisale Serevi. Also, code-hopper Jarryd Hayne, less than a week after retiring from the NFL, was substituted into all three pool matches.
On Sunday, Fiji will play France in the quarterfinals. France won its pool, and knocked Kenya, the Singapore winner, out of quarterfinals contention 29-12. But in consolation, Kenya's Collins Injera scored his 231st try to become the series' all-time leading try-scorer.
Also, pool winner England will play Scotland, unbeaten South Africa meets Argentina, and New Zealand plays the United States.
Samoa, which stunned Fiji in the Paris final last weekend, surprised again by failing to win a pool match.
In the pool decider between New Zealand and Argentina, a week after the latter knocked out the Kiwis in the Paris quarterfinals, the Argentines led twice and at halftime, but the Kiwis scored the only points in the second half to draw 14-14 and top their pool on points difference.