Fiji’s men and New Zealand’s women turned on the style to win the HSBC France Sevens in Toulouse on Sunday.
Ireland, led by the excellent Terry Kennedy, played some impressive rugby to reach their first ever men’s Cup final, but in the final the Fijians - off the back of gold in Singapore and silver in Vancouver, Canada – were too strong.
They won the final 29-17 and Tevita Dagunu said: “Teamwork in defence and attack was what this victory was built on. We kept the ball well and stuck to our game plan.
“To all the Fijians around the globe, this win is for you.”
Waisea Nacuqu was HSBC player of the final and he said: “Ireland played well, but we worked hard.”
After a breathless three days, it is Argentina, who finished fifth here, who are now top of the men’s overall standings with 118 points with two events to go.
Long-time leaders South Africa are second on 116 after a frustrating time in France while Australia are third on 110 and Ireland fourth on 88. After this win, Fiji are now fifth on 87 points after missing out on rounds three and four played in Spain due to the effects of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, this was the last women’s tournament of the 2022 Series and the Cup final in Toulouse was a fitting finale to a brilliant six rounds of world class rugby sevens.
Reigning Olympic champions New Zealand won their first title since Sydney in 2020 when they defeated 2022 Series champions Australia 21-14 in a thrilling final.
Head coach Cory Sweeney, who claimed his first title since taking on the role said: “It is a proud moment and an emotional moment for us all.
“After Langford we worked on a few things, had some awesome training sessions and we put that into practice this week.”
HSBC player of the final Sarah Hirini said: “I love this squad, I have amazing team mates and we will enjoy this moment.”
It means that New Zealand, who missed part of the series due to Covid concerns, finished fifth overall on 57 points.
Australia finished top on 80 points, following a consistently top class season, while France were second on 60 points, Fiji were third also on 60 points and Ireland, also on 60, just missed out on a top three finish due to a weaker points difference.
Despite some spirited performances, including an outstanding victory over England on Saturday, Brazil finished the Series in the relegation position as the 11th core team.
Men’s Cup final: Five star Fiji score lift title
Fiji got off to a flying start in the men’s Cup final when they scored a try after 40 seconds via Tevita Dagunu. Napolioni Bolaca converted to put Fiji 7-0 ahead.
Ireland showed great character and levelled the score at 7-7 when Terry Kennedy set-up Jordan Conroy for a try and Mark Roche converted.
Kennedy then showed excellent awareness to score his side’s second try and, although it was not converted, they were up 12-7.
However, Bolaca’s try, converted by Waisea Nacuqu, made it 14-12 to Fiji at half-time.
Two minutes into the second half Josua Vakurunabili scored Fiji’s third try and when Elia Canakaivata added their fourth they were 24-12 up with four minutes left.
Kaminieli Rasaku’s try made it a 17 point lead before a late Conroy try for Ireland finished things off 29-17.
Women’s Cup final: Brazier try wins it for New Zealand
New Zealand and Australia, the great rivals, met in the women’s Cup final just as they had done last time out in Langford, Canada.
Demi Hayes scored an early try and Dominique du Toit converted to make it 7-0 to Australia before Risi Pouri-Lane bagged a seven pointer for New Zealand to level things up.
Faith Nathan’s try, converted by du Toit, just before the break, put Australia 14-7 up.
Soon after half-time the score was level at 14-14 as Alena Saili finished well and Pouri-Lane added the conversion.
And then came Kelly Brazier’s try, converted by Pouri-Lane, with two minutes to go to give New Zealand a hard fought 21-14 triumph.
A try and a conversion by Paulin Riva put France 7-0 up at half-time in the men’s bronze medal match against Samoa.
The Samoans, with the passionate home crowd cheering on their opponents, battled back well though in the second period and tries from Iafeta Purcell and Vaa Apelu Maliko - and one conversion by the former - had them 12-7 up with time running out.
However, France were not done yet and a five pointer by Jordan Sepho took the game into extra-time where Jonathan Laugel bagged the winning try as it finished 17-12.
Women’s bronze medal match: Try double from Alowesi Nakoci sees Fiji take third
Fiji were too strong for Ireland in the women’s bronze medal match.
They came out on top 26-10, Raijieli Daveua, Alowesi Nakoci (2) and Sesenieli Donu the victor’s try scorers, Lavenia Cavuru (2) and Viniana Riwai adding conversions.
Vicki Elmes Kinlan and Stacey Flood scored unconverted tries for Ireland who can be proud of how they have done in 2022.
Men’s Cup semi-finals: Kennedy leads Ireland to amazing win as Fiji also progress
Ireland were up against it heading into their men’s Cup semi-final against France with the majority of the crowd cheering for the hosts.
However, the Irish really stepped up to the plate and tries from Terry Kennedy (2), Mark Roche and Andrew Smith saw them come out on top 24-7. Roche and Billy Dardis added conversions.
France’s only try in the game came from Nisie Huyard.
Tevita Dagunu, Pilipo Bukayaro and Viwa Naduvalo (2) scored the tries in the second last four tie as Fiji got the better of Samoa 28-7.
Owen Fetu score Samoa’s only try.
Women’s Cup semi-finals: Blyde and Hirini see NZ through while Australia are on fire
Try doubles from Michaela Blyde and Sarah Hirini were enough to see New Zealand win their women’s Cup last four tie against Fiji.
Risi Pouri-Lane also kicked two conversions meaning that Reapi Ulunisau and Alowesi Nakoci’s converted tries came in a 24-14 defeat for Fiji.
Australia were at their very best to see off Ireland 40-7 in the second semi-final.
Maddison Levi (2) Madison Ashby, Charlotte Caslick, Dominique du Toit and Faith Nathan were their try scorers in a 40-7 triumph. Ireland’s only try came from Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.
Men’s fifth place: Master finisher Moneta scores two tries as Argentina grab fifth
Argentina ended up fifth in the men’s competition after they got the better of England.
In the fifth place play-off, Marcos Moneta led the way with two tries and Joaquin de la Vega also crossed - with Tobias Wade (2) and Felipe Del Mestre adding conversions - as Argentina won 21-12.
Blake Boyland and Tom Bowen were the England try scorers.
Earlier in the day, Moneta scored another double to help his side get the better of Australia 22-7 in the semi-finals.
In the other last four tie, Will Homer, Calum Randle, Tom Emery, Hayden Hyde and Frederick Roddick went over for England tries as they got the better of USA 29-14.
Women’s fifth place: Hosts wow crowd to finish strongly
Tries from Jade Ulutule, Yolaine Yengo and Joanna Grisez - added to by two conversions by Ulutule – helped France win the women’s fifth place play-off.
They saw off Canada 19-14 in a close tie, the losers tries coming from Krissy Scurfield and Ella O'Regan.
Earlier on in their semi-final, Joanna Grisez scored an amazing four tries as France saw off Brazil 36-7.
In their own last four ties, Canada defeated USA 19-7, Keyara Wardley, Olivia De Couvreur and Bianca Farella scoring their tries in that one.
Men’s ninth place: Pace and power sees NZ defeat Scotland
New Zealand took their frustrations of not making the Cup knock-out phase out on Scotland in the men’s ninth place play-off, winning 42-7.
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Caleb Tangitau (2), Dylan Collier and Akuila Rokolisoa (2) were their try scorers in the game with Scotland’s only try coming through Jamie Farndale after a superb offload by Kaleem Barreto.
Earlier on in the semi-finals, Joe Webber, Regan Ware (2), Ngarohi McGarvey-Black and Caleb Tangitau (2) scored tries as New Zealand saw off Spain 36-7 while Scotland secured one of their best victories of recent times.
Jamie Farndale, Jordan Edmunds, Ross McCann and Robbie Fergusson scored tries as they go the better of South Africa 24-21.
Women’s ninth place play-off: Lloyd lights things up as Scotland win
Flying winger Rhona Lloyd scored a try hat-trick in the women’s ninth place play-off as Scotland’s positive tournament ended with a win.
They defeated South Africa 24-10, Lisa Thomson scoring their fourth try and two conversions coming from Helen Nelson and Meryl Smith.
Zintle Mpupha and Ayanda Malinga scored South Africa’s tries in the loss.
Men’s 13th place: Japan see off Wales in the play-off
Four converted tries made sure that Japan saw off Wales 28-14 in the men’s 13th place play-off.
Timo Fiti Sufia, Taiga Ishida, Yoshihiro Noguchi and Shotaro Tsuoka were the try scorers for Japan, meaning that seven pointers from Tom Williams and Morgan Williams were not enough for Wales in a 28-14 loss.
Tyler Morgan’s try double had helped lead Wales to a 27-7 win over Canada in the semi-final earlier in the day, Moeki Fukushi, Taiga Ishida (2) and Timo Fiti Sufia the try scorers for Japan in their last four 28-12 triumph over Kenya.
Women’s 11th place play-off: Spain mount come back to defeat England
Spain finished 11th in the women’s event after they battled back from 14-12 down at half-time to defeat England in the 11th place play-off.
María García and Iera Echebarria scored tries for Spain in the first period, with one converted by Lea Ducher, but Ellie Boatman and Isla Norman-Bell tries, both converted by the latter, had England two points up after seven minutes.
The second half belonged to Spain and Ducher and Amalia Argudo scored tries and two of them were converted as they came out on top 26-14.
The men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for 2022 still has two events to go.
The teams head to London for the event in the English capital at Twickenham Stadium on 28 - 29 May. There is then a break until the final round in Los Angeles on 27 - 28 August.
The women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for 2022 is now finished.