France men, New Zealand women win finals at L.A. Sevens

Sun, Mar 3, 2024
MLB News (AP)

France men, New Zealand women win finals at L.A. Sevens

LOS ANGELES (AP) - France beat an injury-hit Great Britain 21-0 in the men's final of the Los Angeles Sevens on Sunday to claim its first title in the rugby sevens World Series in 19 years.

The last time France won a Cup final was in Paris in 2005. The presence of 15s star Antoine Dupoint has energized the France team which has moved up from seventh to fourth place on the overall standings.

New Zealand beat Australia 29-14 in the women's final but Australia retains a four point lead over New Zealand in the standings after five of eight rounds.

The men's side of the draw threw up an unlikely final between teams ranked seventh and 10th after four World Series rounds. Great Britain reached the final after losing to Canada and Fiji in pool play and still has not won a World Series title.

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It came into the final barely able to muster a full team after suffering a series of serious injuries throughout the tournament including two on the first day Friday. Great Britain was unable to match a physical French team in the championship match, especially when Dupont came off the bench for France in the second half.

Antoine Zeghdar put France ahead 7-0 with the only try of the first half.

Stephan Perez Edo Martin doubled France's lead when he converted his own try in the second minute of the second half. Dupont then produced a try assist as Theo Forner scored to seal France's victory while Great Britain had a player in the sin bin.

"I'm very proud for the team, for the boys," France captain Paulin Riva said. "It was very difficult all weekend but we worked hard everytime, everywhere and we are very happy.

"I think this is the new standard for France and we will take this memory into the next tournament."

Ireland beat Spain 24-7 in the third-place playoff after Spain beat Olympic champion Fiji in Sunday's quarterfinals, to reach the semifinals of a World Series tournament for the first time.

Mikaela Blyde scored three tries as New Zealand overwhelmed Australia by five tries to two in the women's final.

New Zealand now has won back-to-back titles a week apart in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Australia and New Zealand jointly have won four out the five tournaments played so far this season.

New Zealand suffered an early setback in the final when it lost playmaker Georgia Miller to an injury which saw her carried from the field on a stretcher. Miller later returned to join team's celebrations.

Captain Risi Pouri-Lane stepped up to play a vital role for New Zealand in the final, capturing turnovers and creating scoring chances. Pouri-Lane pounced on a dropped Australian pass in the second minute and New Zealand moved the ball wide Blyde who scored in huge space on the left.

Australia replied quickly with a try to veteran Charlotte Caslick, made by a break from Sharni Smale. But Blyde dashed almost 80 meters for her second try and New Zealand took a 12-7 lead to halftime.

Australia lost Madison Levi to the sin-bin in the last minute of the first half and New Zealand opened the second with a try in the first minute to Pouri-Lane.

Portia Woodman-Wickliffe pushed off a defender and showed pace out wide to score and make New Zealand's lead 22-7.

Levi scored a long-range try for Australia but too late to change the result and New Zealand sealed its win with Blyde's third try.

"I'm so proud of the girls," Blyde said. "We've been looking for that kind of consitency over the whole season so to do that over the past two weeks feels good.

"Obviously we're building for the big picture of the Olympic Games so this is one of the stepping stones towards it. I guess the big ask is to continue this consistency. It's hard to be at the top."

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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