As the season draws to a close the race for the series title is more fierce than ever with only two points separating Fiji (164) and USA (162) in first and second position.
After being crowned Cup champions in London last weekend, Fiji have overtaken USA on the leaderboard and will be looking for another win this weekend to end their 2019 campaign on a high, with Fiji captain Paula Dranisinukula commenting: “We will fight for the number one spot and we are looking forward to that. It will be an enjoyable weekend for the boys on the field but also for the spectators here in Paris.”
Fiji had double the reason to celebrate last weekend as they also guaranteed their spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by ensuring that they’d finish in the top four of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings.
They were accompanied by USA and New Zealand who also earned qualification and South Africa have all but joined them, needing simply to take to the field in Paris to confirm their place.
As well as the top four teams in this season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series automatically qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as host nation, Japan will also be represented when rugby sevens makes its second Olympic Games appearance next summer.
Olympic Regional Qualification Tournament >>>> Link
Striving to reclaim the top spot in the standings USA captain Madison Hughes commented: “It’s right down to the wire now – it’s been a good season up until this point and the job is to finish it off.
“We know that Fiji are a fantastic team and it’s going to be a tough test so we’re just going to do everything that we can to end on a high note and give ourselves the best possible chance of success.”
Hosts France created history last weekend by beating New Zealand 19-14 in their Cup quarter-final which saw them progress to the semi-finals where they were defeated by Australia.
They will be hoping that their form continues into their home tournament at the Stade Jean-Bouin this weekend with captain Jean Pascal Barraque commenting: “It is a real pleasure to finish the series in Paris because we put in a great performance in London and we hope to continue that form in front of a home crowd.”
Ireland captain Billy Dardis is looking forward to their HSBC Paris Sevens invitational appearance after meeting with an experienced Fiji outfit in the HSBC London Sevens quarter-finals, commenting: “We’re delighted to be here in Paris, last week went pretty well for us with a few good wins. Obviously we learnt a lot by playing big teams like Fiji and New Zealand but we’re excited to get going and are looking forward to Saturday.”
The pool draw will see series leaders Fiji take on England, Ireland and Argentina in Pool A. Pool B features fourth-placed South Africa alongside Wales, Australia and Kenya. Second-placed USA will battle it out against Canada, Samoa and Spain in Pool C, and hosts France will line up against New Zealand, Scotland and Japan.
The action kicks off at the Stade Jean-Bouin at 11:00 local time on Saturday with Canada taking on Samoa in the first of the pool games.
Tickets for the HSBC Paris Sevens are still available from €15. For more information and to book, click here.