Brawl tarnishes Kiwi 7s glory
January 6, 2002

New Zealand has retained its sevens dominance in Santiago, but its reputation is in tatters after armed police were needed to quell a brawl against Fiji in the semi-final.

The Kiwis easily accounted for Samoa 21-7 in the final of the Chile leg of the world series after beating Fiji 19-17 in the semi-final. Tempers then flared as the players were leaving the ground. Attempts to stop the brawl involving most players failed and police were forced to take the field.

Both teams were cited while Canterbury Crusader Marika Vunibaka was cited for striking after sprinting nearly 50m to punch Amasio Valence.

"There's no place in the game today for the fighting that went on," New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. "There was a lot of pressure on that game and it came down to the last few minutes really.

"We finished on points just ahead of Fiji and it was disappointing, very disappointing. Talking about it afterwards our guys certainly regret it. That's rugby, it's a part of it and we're sorry about it."

The Australians fell to New Zealand in the Cup quarter-finals 21-5.

New Zealand extended its lead in the series to 40 points with Samoa and South Africa equal second on 24.

The teams travel to Argentina for next weekend's third round in Mar del Plata.

¼ Finals Bowl 3rd Pool A v 4th Pool B - Canada 40-15Brazil
¼ Finals Bowl 3rd Pool D v 4th Pool C - West Indies 24-19Uruguay
¼ Finals Bowl 3rd Pool C v 4th Pool D - France 22-7Chile
¼ Finals Bowl 3rd Pool B v 4th Pool A - USA 45-7 Paraguay

¼ Finals Cup 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B - New Zealand 21-5 Australia
¼ Finals Cup 1st Pool D v 2nd Pool C - Fiji 36-7England
¼ Finals Cup 1st Pool C v 2nd Pool D - South Africa 28-14 Samoa
¼ Finals Cup 1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A - Argentina 39-0 Wales

Interval 10 minutes 6.56

33 SF Shield Brazil 5-31 Uruguay

34 SF Shield Chile 43-0 Paraguay

35 SF Bowl Canada 24-10 West Indies

36 SF Bowl France 26-33 United States

37 SF Plate Australia 7-15 England
38 SF Plate Samoa 35-0 Wales
39 SF Cup New Zealand 19-17 Fiji

40 SF Cup South Africa 7-14 Argentina

42 Shield Final Chile 10-19 Uruguay
42 Bowl Final Canada 5-32 United States

43 Plate Final Samoa 21-12 England
44 Cup Final New Zealand 2107 Argentina

New Zealand took yet another tournament win, their 13th in the circuit, when claiming the IRB World Sevens Series in Santiago. They beat first time finalists Argentina 21-7 in a hard fought game. New Zealand, after two tournaments in the 2001-2002 Series, top the standings with 40 points, 16 points clear of Samoa and South Africa.
Samoa beat England 21-12 to claim the Plate Competition, USA beat Canada 32-5 to take the Bowl and Uruguay won the Shield Competition beating Chile 19-10.

The success story of the tournament was Argentina's solid display in which they won five games but did not have momentum to dethrone the Kiwis. They beat Wales 39-0 in the quarter-inal and South Africa 14-7 in the semi-final. They picked up enough steam for next week's tournament in Mar del Plata, where they will be joined by stars Agustín Pichot, Felipe Contepomi and Ignacio Corleto.

The semi-final was won by the eventual champions 19-17 - Fijian speedster Marika Vunibaka scoring a late try. With Waisele Serevi taking the goal, however after the final whistle, a fracas broke out. Steve Hinds, the tournament's IRB Citing Commissioner, looked at video evidence of the incident and cited Fijian winger Marika Vunibaka, who is to attend a Judicial Hearing on Sunday morning in Santiago.

Subsequent to the conclusion of the tournament, the Citing Commissioner cited both New Zealand and Fiji under the Misconduct Provisions relating to the Series. Both teams will be represented at a Judicial Hearing on Sunday morning.

The day's action, began under intense heat with Canada beating Brazil 40-15 and setting the pace for twenty well contested games. Together with neighbours USA (who beat Paraguay 45-7) they scored runaway victories, the other two games being tough encounters.

The four South American sides other than Argentina thus played in the Shield section, with Uruguay and Chile claiming easy victories to set up a well played final in which Uruguay scored three tries to claim first place in this section. Ignacio Conti, with a good game, scored the final try of the game for a young Tero representative. Chile did not, unfortunately, bowled out 19-10.

USA, after hot and cold performances throughout both days, had a great display in the final of the Bowl convincingly beating neighbour Canada 32-5. Jason Raven had a great final, scoring a brace. An equal amount of tries was scored by speedster David Fee. Canada were ably led by veteran sevens star Gregor Dixon, although his side was not as accomplished as in previous events.

Samoa, having been beaten by South Africa in the Cup quarterfinals went on to win their next two games to secure 8 Series points that puts them, with South Africa, in the second position, behind New Zealand. England, the beaten Plate finalists had a good tournament, a team on the rise after the recent announcement of plans to further their Sevens Programme.

New Zealand proved to be the best team of the tournament and in the final, although not as solid in previous events, they waited with
patience and benefited from Argentina's mistakes. Late in the first
half, young Juan Martín Hernández tried a short 22m dropout, which went back between his legs. Amasio Valence snatched it and scored the opening try.

The second try came when New Zealand recovered a ball and Hayden Reid
ran 35 yards, with Amasio scoring New Zealand's third try and last try.

Argentina's only try came with a clever chip and chase by Hernández.

After the final, victorious New Zealand coach Gordon Tiejtens made
reference to his "extreme regret that the incident had happened. The
players talked about it in the dressing room and regret it. That is
rugby, but we do regret it." Of the challenges ahead, he said: "We have a young squad so it was good to come out of this tournament with a win. In a way, we were not favourites and did not arrive as early as we would have wanted. Mar del Plata is our next stop and look forward to that great tournament.

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