SINGAPORE — Defending champions Fiji survived a major scare in the opening pool stage of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens, before squeezing through to the knockout stages of the competition at the National Stadium on Saturday (13 April).
After beginning their title defence with a 50-12 win over Canada, fans – many of whom were decked out in fancy-dress outfits – were stunned when they fell to surprise defeats by Scotland (12-19) and South Africa (7-17).
They only managed to advance to the quarter-finals thanks to Canada, who somehow managed to defeat Scotland 33-10 despite losing heavily to both Fiji and South Africa.
Loss of influential player
Fiji head coach Gareth Baber said, “We lost probably our most influential player (Jerry Tuwai through hamstring injury) early in the tournament during the first game against Canada.
“We won (the Hong Kong Sevens) last weekend, so we’re obviously not far from our best. But it’s a mental game, and the big thing is to remind them what they can achieve and when they achieved it, link that to their physical recovery and show them that, come tomorrow morning, they can be in a different space.”
They will need all their mental strengths when they face an in-form New Zealand in Sunday morning’s quarter-final. New Zealand notched two high-scoring wins in Pool D against Japan (43-0) and Spain (53-0), but were pushed hard before beating Samoa 26-22.
US, Fiji on brink of Olympic qualification
The United States, seven points clear of Fiji at the top of the overall World Rugby Sevens series standings, advanced with three straight wins from Pool C against Wales (31-12), Kenya (17-14) and Japan (22-7). They will meet Argentina in the quarter-finals.
Depending on this weekend’s results, both the US and Fiji can qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And US captain Madison Hughs said, “The goal at the beginning of the year was to be in the top four and clinch the qualification. We’re pretty close to that. It’s pretty cool that it’s within touching distance and we’ll do whatever we can to keep winning and see what happens.”
Tickets for the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens are available ($19 for youth, $39 for adults). Family packages and premium tickets can be purchased via the Singapore 7s website, Sports Hub Tix website, hotline +65-3158-7888, Sports Hub Tix Box Office at Singapore Indoor Stadium, The Star Performing Arts Centre Box Office, Scotts Square Concierge Desk, and all SingPost outlets.
Other Singapore stories: