Sevens Olympics hopes boosted after Vancouver success as Hong Kong Pools are revealed

Tue, Mar 7, 2023, 8:22 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

Both the Men's and Women's Sevens sides have taken major steps towards Olympic qualification as they prepare for the final rounds of the 2022-23 HSBC World Sevens Series.

John Manenti's side have enjoyed an incredible rise to tied fourth after a wild fortnight in North America, having finished Sydney languishing in eighth position.

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A loss to Kenya in Los Angeles had them on the verge of elimination, only to see the Kenyans stunned by Japan, allowing the Aussies to skate through to the quarter-finals despite a close loss to Fiji.

They made good use of their fortunes, thumping Ireland before finishing the tournament in fourth.

This continued into Vancouver, stunned by hosts Canada before a late after-the-siren Henry Paterson try against Ireland sealed their place in the final eight on points difference.

From here, they outlasted Series leaders New Zealand and proceeded to back up their win over the Irish to claim bronze.

It has the Aussies in contention for qualification for next year's Paris Olympics, with just six points separating third and seventh.

The top four will automatically qualify, with third-place France already securing their spot on account of hosting the event, leaving currently Australia in the final qualification spot.

“This weekend, we experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, but we finished with a bronze medal and pushed into the crucial top four Olympic qualifying positions,” said head coach John Manenti.

“Our performances got better as combinations grew – we have a very inexperienced group at the moment and this weekend has been a credit to the work they are doing to get us in the contest...It’s been a long three weeks on the road, but placing fourth in Los Angeles and third in Vancouver has us heading in the right direction – we’re looking forward to Hong Kong.”

As for the Women, their silver medal has all but secured their spot at the Paris Games.

Tim Walsh's team were forced to overcome a 'ghost of Sevens past' type run to the Final, first dominating France to top Pool C to gain revenge from Sydney.

They easily accounted for Fiji, the team that knocked them out at the last Olympics, before producing a similar result against the USA, flipping the Hamilton result.

Whilst the Kiwis were ultimately too strong, the second-place performance means they need to finish higher than ninth or Ireland to finish third or lower to secure their top four finish with a round to go.

“We prepared well and played more to our identity, though we let ourselves down in the Final with our decision making,” added coach Tim Walsh.

“I was impressed with Lily Dick both on and off the field – she delivered impact and performed her role whenever called upon – and Maddison Levi showed her class, X-factor and desire to win.

“All in all, it was a decent tournament; if it was an exam, I’d mark it as a B minus – and that just isn’t good enough!”

Walsh's side will get the chance to seal Ireland's fate at Hong Kong, drawn together in Pool B.

They are joined by Fiji and Brazil as they prepare for the first-ever World Series Women's event at the prestigious venue.

As for the Men, they have received a positive pool draw alongside USA, Spain and Japan.

Pool D looms as the 'Pool of Death', with Series leaders New Zealand drawing Ireland, South Africa and Kenya.

Meanwhile, Vancouver champions Argentina must deal with Fiji, Samoa and Canada whilst France, Great Britain, Hong Kong and Uruguay complete Pool B


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