Paris Sevens: Five things we learned

by Jill Scanlon

The end of the road is near and last weekend in Paris told a tale of how unpredictable Sevens can be – and that’s what makes it so exciting.

Under-performing teams pulled something extra out of their kit bag, while the heavyweights faltered and redressed the balance of life on the international Sevens circuit.

All except South Africa, that is!

Fifth time a charm!

South Africa has now won five of the nine World Series tournaments, finishing second in three of the other four and featuring in finals in all tournaments bar, ironically, their home leg.

The 36-point margin over the nearest rival with one tournament to go in 2017 is impressive especially when you consider South Africa has been the bridesmaid in the World Series title race for the past four series and was the Bronze medallist in Rio.

No other team has a record quite like it and it would suggest coach Neil Powell is doing something very right.

Patience is a virtue

The Aussies finished in 10th position, their first result outside the top eight since Wellington in January.

The World Series season is long and arduous when distance travelled and workload is considered and by season’s end the toll it takes on the body and the mind starts to  show.

Paris was a righting of the ship perhaps, tempering expectations of this young squad that have grown based on some impressive individual and collective performances over the past five tournaments.

London will wrap up this first season for the new-look Aussie squad, not to mention the first full season for the new coach, and lessons will have been learned.

Even with the great strides taken so far, there is still work to be done. The talent is there but consistency takes time.

 

Au revoir Paris and hello #london7s! 🏉🇬🇧

A post shared by Aussie7s (@aussie7s) on


 

The enigma of Scotland

Scotland began the season with a bang finishing fourth in Cape Town and third in Wellington, so expectations were high heading into Sydney.

The term ‘crash and burn’ was then given new meaning with a last-place finish on the Australian leg followed by average performances which saw the Scots locked in the bottom grouping for the next four rounds.

So Scotland’s giant-killing effort in Paris which saw it undefeated on day one, rolling over South Africa and Canada, and scoring a massive victory over Fiji in the Cup quarter-finals, took everyone by surprise.

Scotland won the London title last year and on the basis of its French performance there may be a back-to-back scenario in the offing.

Farewelling champions

Since the Olympics, many players have moved on making this series a watershed season for international Sevens rugby.

There is much young talent emerging and the future looks exciting but some veterans of the game remain and have done so mainly to help the young pups find their feet.

Names like Stannard, Forbes, Robertson and Injera are all such players.

French legend Julien Candelon is one of this elite group.

A veteran of 42 tournaments with almost 200 appearances, the 36-year-old farewelled his home fans in Paris having recently announced his retirement.


 

While Candelon and his team gave the crowd plenty of cause to raise the volume over the two days, in the end they could not bring home the prize.

His final outing in London will be emotional and the applause will flow but will he be the only one to take the curtain call?

London calling!

Twickenham is the home of Rugby and is by rite the final stop on the World tour.

The theme of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series finale is "Feast of Rugby" and combines the excitement of a Sevens tournament with a huge array of entertainment for the fans drawing large crowds and fittingly farewelling another season.

In the stadium, emotions are always mixed as players, staff and organisers are exhausted while fans prepare for that hollow feeling over the five months until it all kicks off again in Dubai in December.

South Africa will be formally crowned in London so no surprises there but who will take that bridesmaid prize?

The two contenders – England and Fiji - are all but untouchable now, but with just three points between them, second-place is up for grabs.

Join the discussion

Advertisement