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- Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens women’s semi-finals, men’s quarter-finals confirmed after superb day of rugby sevens in front of packed house at Hong Kong Stadium
- Women’s semi-final line-up: New Zealand v Fiji, Australia v Great Britain
- Men’s quarter-finals: New Zealand v Argentina, France v Spain, Fiji v South Africa, USA v Great Britain
- Finals day on Sunday sees the men’s quarter-finals at 10:02 local time (GMT+8) and the women’s semi-finals at 14:43, with the women’s and men’s cup finals at 19:40 and 20:15 respectively
- Paris 2024 Olympic qualification and Series status at stake in most competitive Series in history
The Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will come to a climax on Sunday after another thrilling day of action at the historic Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday which saw the women’s semi-final and men’s quarter-final line-ups confirmed.
In the women’s event, Series leaders New Zealand will face Fiji in the final four, while Dubai winners Australia will take on Great Britain on Sunday with a spot in the cup finals up for grabs.
The opening men’s quarter-final on Sunday will see a rematch of the Los Angeles cup final with Series leaders New Zealand taking on HSBC Canada Sevens champions Argentina. Vancouver runners-up France face Spain in the next quarter-final, while Fiji will take on South Africa and USA battle Great Britain to decide who will advance to the semi-finals later in the day.
Ireland women’s impressive knockout streak, in which they have won six of their last eight quarter-finals, including three of four this season, hit a green-and-gold wall in Hong Kong. Charlotte Caslick scored twice as Australia, who have now won 25 matches in a row against Ireland, cruised into Sunday’s semi-finals with a 24-5 victory, an improvement on their win over the same team on day one.
Great Britain’s Rhona Lloyd was the hero off the bench to help send her team into the semi-finals – their first this season – with a sensational try in the 14th minute to defeat France.
Like Great Britain, Fiji also left it late to stake their claim for a semi-final berth, twice coming from behind against USA before winning the match on the final play courtesy of a touchdown from Reapi Ulunisau to make it 19-14 at the final whistle.
After those two tight games, the Black Ferns cruised into the last four with a straightforward 45-12 win over a brave Canada – their second of the day – to round off the second day’s action, and set-up a semi-final against Fiji on Sunday. Jorja Miller and Risi Pouri-Lane both scored twice as New Zealand ran in seven tries.
Fiji ran in eight tries to beat Canada 40-7 in the opening pool A match of day two en route to finishing top of Pool B and qualifying for the quarter-finals. The remarkable Marcos Moneta scored his 80th and 81st tries in just 17 tournaments as Argentina beat Samoa 26-19.
Argentinian happiness later tempered a little, however, as they were beaten to top spot in pool A in an end-to-end 26-19 loss to fellow quarter-finalists Fiji.
Hong Kong China hero Max Denmark scored in the first minute of their Pool B match against Great Britain. But, then, the match ran to script, as Tony Roques’ multi-nation side took control against the invitational team, comfortably winning 33-12 in the end.
Drama followed, as a pair of late Jefferson Joseph tries gave France a comeback 17-14 win over Uruguay to deny the South American side a quarter-final berth.
Australia’s defence of their Hong Kong Sevens title is over, after they finished third in Pool C, behind USA and surprise quarter-finalists Spain. Perry Baker scored four tries in two matches, as USA beat Japan and Australia to put Friday’s 7-0 loss to Spain behind them and book their place in the last eight and knock Australia down to the 9th place quarter-final based on points differential.
In pool D, New Zealand made it three from three in Hong Kong, with wins over South Africa and Ireland to set up a quarter-final against Argentina on Sunday. Earlier, Ireland’s Harry McNulty had needed just 15 seconds to open the scoring in their opening match of the day against Kenya. They went on to win 26-14 to set up a decider against the All Blacks. But that loss against New Zealand meant South Africa qualified for the last eight in Ireland’s stead.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 continues to be the most competitive season yet with the prize of Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification on offer for the top four women’s and men’s teams in the 2023 Series standings. Hosts France have pre-qualified for next year’s pinnacle event in the nation’s capital.
The women’s Series has seen five tournaments, with New Zealand sitting firmly on top of the standings with 98 points having won the last four tournaments in Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney and Vancouver.
In Vancouver the Black Ferns became the first team to book their spot at Paris 2024, while Australia, the only other nation to have won a tournament in Dubai, and USA also qualified for next year’s Olympics to be held at Stade de France at this weekend’s tournament by advancing to the quarter-finals.
The men’s Series has seen five different winners (Australia, Samoa, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand) through the opening seven tournaments. New Zealand, who won in Sydney and Los Angeles, currently sit atop the Series standings with 120 points, followed by Argentina (108), who won the last stop at the HSBC Canada Sevens along with Hamilton, closely trailed by Vancouver runners-up France with 95 points and Fiji and Australia are both tied with 94 points with just four events to go.
At the other end of the table in the men’s competition the number of 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 rankings.
Play begins at 08:30 local time on Sunday with the men’s 9th place quarter-finals, while the men’s cup quarter-finals start at 10:02 local time (GMT+8). The women’s cup semi-finals start at 14:43, and the women’s and men’s cup finals take place at 19:40 and 20:15 respectively as the race of Series glory and Olympic qualification continues.