World Rugby Sevens: Australia claim series title after third place finish in Los Angeles

·2-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Australia claimed their first ever men’s World Rugby Sevens Series title after finishing in third position in the final event of the season in Los Angeles.

It is a staggering achievement for a programme that endured significant funding cuts from its governing body, Rugby Australia.

Head coach John Manenti has cobbled together a team and they have built steadily over the past year, culminating in this incredible triumph.

They went into the tournament second in the overall standings but South Africa failed to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals, giving Australia the chance to wrap it up in the bronze medal match.

Manenti’s team duly beat Samoa 21-7 thanks to Corey Toole, Henry Paterson and Dietrich Roache tries to claim third place in Los Angeles and the series win, matching the achievements of the women, who also earned the title.

Quite surreal

“It is quite surreal to be honest,” Manenti said.

“It has been an amazing six months or so with the boys, we have had our ups and downs, but these kids have fought hard and they deserve this and it is something that they will remember for ever.

“We are a bunch of misfits just having a crack, working hard for each other and the boys love each other which is a big thing.

“This season we wanted to be consistent from day one and we didn’t get there every tournament, but in general this overall victory is all about the consistency the boys have shown.”

New Zealand won the final leg of the series, defeating Fiji 28-21 in the final, but the Kiwis were never in contention for the overall prize due to missing tournaments in Spain and Dubai because of Covid.

Travel restrictions caused by the virus prevented them from flying over as South Africa dominated the early part of the campaign.

Disappointment for the Blitzboks

The Blitzboks looked on course to take the series triumph after winning the first four events, but their form fell off a cliff after that.

Two fifth place finishes was the best they could muster in the final five tournaments to leave their head coach immensely disappointed.

“It was not what we expected,” boss Neil Powell said.

“I was not happy with the effort of the team over the two days and we will have to address that when back in Cape Town and preparing for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in two weeks’ time.”

Australia only won a single tournament – the penultimate one in London – but they were rewarded for their consistency, with two runners-up and three third place finishes.

READ MORE: Blitzboks crowned Commonwealth Games Sevens champions

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