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Canada's Krissy Scurfield charges through the Great Britain defense on day one of the Cathay/ HSBC Hong Kong Sevens at Hong Kong Stadium on 31 March, 2023 in Hong Kong, China.

HIGHLIGHTS | Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens | Day 1

via World Rugby

  • Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and France end day one with perfect win records in women’s tournament
  • USA and Australia women qualify for Paris 2024, joining New Zealand and hosts France
  • Returning champions Australia off to winning start looking to defend their title as men’s teams play one pool match each
  • Play continues on Saturday from 08:46 local time (GMT+8) with the completion of the pool phase and women’s quarter-finals, ahead of the men’s quarter-finals, and both semi-finals and finals on Sunday
  • With Paris 2024 Olympic qualification and Series status at stake the current edition continues to be the most competitive in history
  • The world-renowned Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens never fails to deliver in terms of drama, excitement and entertainment as the world’s best men’s and women’s teams kicked off the first of three days of competition at the iconic Hong Kong Stadium on Friday.
  • It was an historic occasion for rugby in Hong Kong since it was the first time in the tournament’s 46-year history that the women’s Series featured alongside the men’s in front of a raucous and passionate crowd despite rainy conditions throughout most of the day.

Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and France women all ended day one with perfect win records to qualify for the quarter-finals on Saturday with still one pool match to play.

Following the Black Ferns Sevens in Vancouver and hosts France, Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists Australia and USA became the latest two women’s teams to solidify their positions at next year’s pinnacle event to be held at Stade de France based on today’s performances.

In the remaining Pool A matches on Saturday, Hong Kong China will continue their learning curve against Great Britain, while Canada will be looking to avoid a 19th straight defeat against New Zealand.

In Pool B, Ireland will be looking for a 14th successive win against Brazil and Australia will face Fiji for the first time in the pool stages this season.

Finally, in Pool C, Spain will be looking to win their first pool match since the Cape Town tournament in December when they take on Japan, while the USA’s meeting with France will determine who finishes top of the pool.

Each men’s team played one pool match on day one and the results mostly followed the formbook with the leading teams winning their opening game.

In Pool A, Hong Kong kings Fiji had a real fight on their hands to battle past Samoa but came through 12-7, to make it 15 wins in a row against their Pacific rivals while Vancouver-champions Argentina knocked off a spirited Canadian team to pick up right where they left off.

Great Britain turned the tables on Uruguay who had beaten them earlier in the Series with an equally tense victory, 14-10 in Pool B. Much to the delight of the home crowd, Seb Brien scored two brilliant late tries for Hong Kong China but France edged out the win 21-14 in the final match of the day.

The biggest men’s result of the day came in Pool C when Pol Pla scored for Spain and Los Leones’ defense hold on for the win over the USA in an exciting Pool C encounter. Australia, led by the return from injury of Nick Malouf, a key figure in Australia’s 2022 World Series triumph, also knocked off Japan 26-5.

Pool D saw New Zealand open their tournament with a 29-5 win over Kenya, and South Africa secured an impressive victory over Ireland thanks to the winning try by Zain Davids.

The number of men’s teams for the next edition of the Series will reduce from 16 to 12 to equal the number of women’s teams and align with the Olympic competition structure, meaning fans can continue to expect an intense battle to avoid relegation throughout the 2023 Series with every match and every point counting towards the final Series standings.

Following the penultimate event in Toulouse, the 15th ranked team will be relegated, while the 12th through 14th ranked teams will face-off against the Sevens Challenger Series 2023 winner for the 12th and final position on the 2024 Series.

Play begins at 08:46 local time on Saturday with the completion of the pool matches before the women’s quarter-finals commence at 19:37. Both men’s and women’s semi-finals and finals take place on Sunday as the race of Series glory and Olympic qualification continues.

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