Spain, Georgia and Cooks cause upsets on opening day
January 27, 2001

Spain, Georgia and the Cook Islands produced the upsets on the first day of the World Cup Sevens ,leaving England and France with red faces.

Spain defeated 1993 champions England 14-12 with a late try under the posts
from captain Oriol Ripol that was converted by Ferran Velazco, while Georgia finished the day unbeaten, taking the scalps of France and Taiwan.

The Georgians jumped to a 12-0 lead through tries from skipper Grigol
Labadze and Paliko Jimsheladze before Vasil Katsadze scored their third in the second half as the French struggled to keep up.

In the last minute, France finally found some rhythm and scored two quick
tries, but it was too little too late and Georgia were able to hold firm until the final whistle to record a famous 19-14 victory.

Later, it was the Cook Islands' turn to humiliate "Les Tricolores" romping
home 19-7 in their Pool B encounter.

France took the lead through Luc Lafforgue, but veteran captain Terry Piri became the hero once more when he scored twice to put the Islanders ahead
before Teuvira Uea made sure with a closing try.

Defending champions Fiji had a bad day at the office, but scraped through
their Pool A games unbeaten.

Having disposed of Ireland with an easy 41-5 in their opener, they struggled badly against a determined Russian outfit, eventually triumphing 14-5.

And amid the screams of a strongly partisan crowd, Fiji came back from
being down at half-time to beat hosts Argentina 19-12.

Veteran Jope Tuikabe struck first blood with a try in the opening minute after Waisale Serevi had made an opening.But soon after, the crowd went beserk when first Pedro Baraldi then Jose Maria Piossek broke through the Fijian line and scored. Felipe Contepomi kicked a conversion to put the hosts 12-5 ahead.

Marika Vunibaka brought Fiji back into the game with a breakaway try from his own half. Serevi converted and, at 12-12, the stage was set for a few more
fireworks.

Vilimoni Delasau put Fiji into the lead a few minutes from the end with a
dazzling run down the left flank. Serevi converted to make it 19-12.

Irish coach Willie McBride was ambivalent about his side's hefty 41-5 loss to Fiji."I'm quite happy really," he said. "That's the first time we have managed to score a try against Fiji and it's the lowest total they have scored against us."

Wales had a miserable time, drawing with Portugal 19-19 in their opening
Pool D game, then losing to Australia and Samoa.The Aussies also put away Hong Kong 29-5 and buried the USA 47-0.

But it was New Zealand and South Africa who stood out from the crowd on the
opening day.Although the Kiwis had a slow start against Spain, they eventually triumphed 26-7 then thumped Japan 52-0 and Zimbabwe 47-0, only blighted by the yellow card shown to veteran skipper Eric Rush in the closing moments against Zimbabwe.

South Africa racked up three comfortable wins -- 47-7 over Taiwan, 24-0 against Canada and 29-0 against the Cooks.

New star Andre Pretorius had an excellent game playing off his more
established teammates Bobby Skinstad, Breyton Paulse and Chester Williams.

Despite England's shock defeat to Spain, the white and reds were able to
salvage some pride with wins over Chile and Zimbabwe in Pool C, while Canada
managed to put the ghosts of the last World Cup firmly behind them with a 24-5 victory over the Cook Islands in Pool B.

Four years ago in Hong Kong, Canada lost all five of their games including a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Cooks.
"We feel better already," Canadian skipper Gregor Dixon said. "By beating
the Cooks, we have already done better than we did in the whole of the last
World Cup."

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