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Monday, 15 May 2023

New Zealand Double at France Sevens 2023; Ireland Women Qualify for Olympic Games

(15/05/23)  The HSBC France Sevens came to a dramatic close on Sunday evening in Toulouse with New Zealand women and men securing double gold, while the All Blacks Sevens joined the Black Ferns as 2023 Series champions.

It is the third time the teams in black have achieved such a tournament double this season, having claimed dual gold in Sydney in January and Hong Kong in March.

For the Black Ferns Sevens, it marked the sixth consecutive cup title to finish the 2023 Series in style while for the All Blacks Sevens it was their first cup title in France dating back to 2004 in Bordeaux.

In the bronze medal matches, Australia women defeated France 33-7 while the home fans were treated to a thrilling men’s final where the hosts defeated Canada 28-12.

New Zealand Double at France Sevens 2023. Click to enlarge.
New Zealand Double at France Sevens 2023

Earlier in the day, Fiji men joined Series winners New Zealand, Argentina and hosts France as the third team to qualify for Paris 2024, leaving one place to be decided next weekend at HSBC London Sevens in the final event of the 2023 Series.

In the women’s competition, Ireland made history by securing the fourth and final spot for next summer’s Summer Olympic Games by defeating Fiji 10-5 in a nail-biter in the opening match of the day. The size of the achievement was evident in the celebrations that greeted the final whistle.

“It’s an absolute credit to the girls and the whole entire squad,” Katie Heffernan said. “This is massive for Irish rugby, it’s massive for the girls and it’s onwards and upwards from here.”

The battle for the 11th spot on the 2024 Series, and therefore avoiding next weekend’s World Rugby Sevens Series 2024 Play-off, came right down to the wire in the ninth place semi-finals mid-day. Spain defeated Samoa while Uruguay were defeated by Fiji, which saw Spain secure their spot on the 2024 Series.

Next weekend’s play-off will consist of a round-robin between Uruguay, Canada, who finished fourth in Toulouse, Kenya and Tonga, the World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 champions. The opening two matches will be played on Saturday with the final pool match taking place on Sunday morning.

The top two ranked teams following the initial stage will square off on Sunday evening with the winner securing the 12th and final spot on the 2024 Series.

The men’s teams now move straight on to London for the final round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 on 20-21 May at Twickenham Stadium.

Toulouse champions New Zealand will face South Africa, Great Britain and USA in Pool A, while Pool B will feature Argentina, Ireland, Fiji and Japan, who join the tournament as the invitational team after being relegated from the 2024 Series on Saturday in 15th position.

France Sevens bronze medal winners Les Bleus headline Pool C alongside Australia, Spain and Samoa.

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015, Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.

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