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HSBC SVNS Grand Final action heating up in Madrid

The inaugural HSBC SVNS Grand Final and promotion and relegation Play Off competition got off to a flying start under blue skies in Madrid as the best 32 rugby sevens teams in the world took to the pitch looking to become HSBC SVNS Champions or to secure their places in HSBC SVNS 2025.

The three-day event will see the HSBC SVNS 2024 Champions being crowned in the winner-takes all Grand Final involving the top eight placed men’s and women’s teams from the HSBC SVNS regular season.

Meanwhile the promotion and relegation Play Off competition involves a further eight men’s and women’s teams playing for their HSBC SVNS status as the Qualifier final matches on Sunday are set to decide which four men’s and women’s teams secure their places on HSBC SVNS 2025.

The opening day of competition saw each Grand Final team play their first pool match while all Play Off teams played twice. With more at stake than ever before, the action was as hot as the Madrid temperatures at the iconic Civitas Metropolitano Stadium, home of Atletico Madrid football club.

In the women’s Grand Final competition HSBC SVNS 2024 League Winners New Zealand continued their dominant recent form by thrashing Great Britain 49-14 with Portia Woodman-Wickliffe running in a hat-trick of tries.

Arch rivals Australia were made to work hard by Perth SVNS champions Ireland with the half time score level at 14-14, but ultimately showed their class to run out 33-14 winners thanks to two tries apiece for the Levi sisters Teagan and Maddison.

There were also victories for women’s Olympic silver medallists France who beat Fiji 36-7 and the USA who overcame neighbours Canada 26-19 in a tight encounter to get their campaign .

Men’s HSBC SVNS 2024 League Winners Argentina started well with a convincing 31-5 win over Great Britain, while France made light work of Australia with a 38-5 win without calling upon the services of the rested Antoine Dupont, who is expected to feature on Saturday and Sunday.

SVNS League runners up Ireland overcame South Africa 26-2, and in the game of the day Fiji were inspired by returning double Olympic Champion Jerry Tuwai to a last gasp 28-26 victory over New Zealand with Iowane Teba kicking the crucial conversion from the sideline to win the match with the clock in the red.

Under the new HSBC SVNS 2024 competition model, seven regular-season events took place, which resulted in Argentina and New Zealand becoming men’s and women’s league winners respectively at HSBC SVNS Singapore in May before the new standalone Grand Final in Madrid.

The newly introduced high-stakes promotion and relegation play-off competition is taking place simultaneously in Madrid with teams ranked ninth to twelfth in SVNS 2024 competing with the top four teams from the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024.

The competition format involves two pools of four teams to decide who plays who in the all-important play off matches on Sunday, with the winners of the resulting four cross-over matches securing their place in HSBC SVNS 2025, while the losing teams will enter the regional qualification pathway for the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2025.

China were the stars of the HSBC SVNS Play-offs on day one with wins over Spain and Japan. China, who finished first in the World Rugby HSBC Challenger Series, beat Spain, the HSBC SVNS 12th seeds, 12-7, before seeing off Japan by 17-14 to strengthen their chances of securing a spot on the series next season.

Japan, however, had started their tournament in convincing fashion with a 32-0 victory over Poland, Chiharu Nakamura and Honoka Tsutsumi both scoring braces. Meanwhile, Spain gave the home crowd something to cheer about as they replied with an authoritative performance to beat Poland 45-5.

Spain’s men got off to a winning start with a 29-12 victory over Chile and then enthralled the Madrid crowd by clinching a nail-biting 10-5 win over Kenya in the final game of the day. Meanwhile Series stalwarts Samoa suffered surprising defeats to Challenger opponents Kenya by 19-12 and Chile by 21-19 on day one.

The USA finished ninth in the men’s SVNS standings and are consequently playing in the Play Off competition to secure their place in HSBC SVNS 2025, and they got off to the best possible start with opening day victories over Germany by 40-19, and Uruguay 29-14.

Day two begins at 12:00 local time (GMT+2) on Saturday, before the action reaches its climax with finals day on Sunday when play begins at 10:05 and reaches its finale with the HSBC SVNS championship finals at 19:49 and 20:26.

With rugby sevens kicking off the Olympic Games in Paris on 24 July, Madrid represents the last stop on the road to the Paris for the teams already qualified and former World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year Antoine Dupont is expected to feature for France on Saturday, following his sensational impact at the recent SVNS events in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Away from the pitch an impressive entertainment line-up is creating a buzzing festival atmosphere, including the hugely popular SVNS beach club and popular local DJ Luc Loren performing alongside live acts including Ptazeta and Chanel.

Fans can watch the HSBC SVNS action wherever you are in the world, either via broadcaster partners or online on RugbyPass TV.

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