Paris Sevens: Aussies finish 11th, Fiji take Series title

Mens - Paris
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Olympic champions Fiji captured their third World Rugby Sevens Series title in five years on Sunday as they won the season-ending tournament in Paris.

Fiji defeated series runners-up the United States 33-14 in the semi-finals to ensure they would finish as champions. They celebrated their triumph in style by beating New Zealand 35-24 in the final.

It was a fifth victory this season for the Fijians in the 10-leg competition, and gave them a fourth overall title, adding to wins in 2006, 2015 and 2016.

Fiji captain Josua Vakurunabili said he told his teammates to "make people back home and your family proud".

"In the huddle I said to the boys, 'If you want to be a history maker don't let this moment pass you,'" he said.

Fiji had finished second a year ago after slipping up in the final round at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris, allowing South Africa to pip them to the title.

They ensured there was no repeat in the sweltering conditions in the French capital, sweeping the hosts aside 24-5 in the quarter-finals to underline their intent at the start of the final day.

The top four teams in the series standings -- Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa -- qualify automatically for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Japan were relegated from the circuit after finishing 15th overall, as Wales held on to the final place among the elite top 14 nations.

FINAL STANDINGS

1. Fiji - 186 

2. USA - 177

3. New Zealand - 162

4. South Africa - 148

5. England - 114

6. Samoa - 107

7. Australia - 104

8. France - 109

9. Argentina - 94

10. Scotland - 72

11. Canada - 59

12. Spain - 49

13. Kenya - 37

14. Wales - 27

15. Japan - 19

EARLIER

The 2018-19 World Series is over for the Aussie men. Photo: World RugbyAustralia's men have finished 11th in Paris after losing to Ireland 24-17 in their Challenge Trophy semi-final on Sunday night.

The loss left them with their equal-lowest finish of the season, unable to back up a Cup final appearance in London.

Australia started well against Ireland, scoring the first two tries with skipper Lewis Holland opening their account.

Holland had a hand in the Aussies' second as well, setting up Ben O'Donnell for the five-pointer.

Ireland hit back after that, slipping through Australia's grasp and another score just on half-time left the Aussies trailing at the break.

It was the Irish who scored first in the second stanza as well, stretching their advantage to nine points as the clock wound down.

Joe Pincus pegged back some of the deficit with a try but one final Ireland try sealed Australia's fate.

The Aussies finish equal-11th in Paris with that loss and well adrift of the World Series' top echelon.

The top four in the World Series standings qualify for the Olympics while Australia will play in an Oceania qualifier in Suva in November.

CHALLENGE TROPHY QUARTER-FINAL

Australia's men are through to the Challenge Cup semis in Paris after a dominant 54-0 win over Spain.

The Aussies had three tries in the first five minutes to open up a 21-0 lead over the Spaniards in their quarter-final

It was Simon Kennewell who opened the scoring for the Aussies, with Jeral Skelton and Joe Pincus adding to the tally in the opening half.

Skelton made it a double just before the break, shrugging off the Spanish defence to make the gap 26 points at the break.

Will Maddocks made it five tries for Australia, running a strong support line to Ben O'Donnell to score his second try of the weekend in his debut tournament.

The Aussies were left down a man after a yellow card to Henry Vanderglas but that didn't stop them adding to the score sheet with Matt Hood taking the ball from the base of a ruck and slicing through Spain's defence.

Henry Hutchison broke through the Spanish line and into open space to score another one for Australia, after swallowing up a good Maurice Longbottom ball.

Josh Coward iced the game with a try generated from a Spanish error, bringing Australia past the 50-point mark.

Australia will take on Ireland in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals at 9:55pm AEST, LIVE on Kayo Sports.

RESULT

Spain 0 - Australia 54

Australia 17 - Ireland 24