England claim Hong Kong glory
March 24, 2002

England became only the second team from the Northern Hemisphere to win the Hong Kong Sevens since its inception as they defeated the favored Fijians 33-20 in a pulsating finale to a great weekend of rugby.

Adapting far better to the wet, slippery conditions, England outscored Fiji five tries to four by taking advantage of Fiji's lapses in defence and some excellent kicking from Cambridge University flyhalf Simon Amor.

"The boys toughed it out in difficult conditions," England coach Joe Lydon said. "This has been a step progression the team has had a little longer together, they now believe in themselves, and we also had a bit of luck today."

The last team from the Northern Hemisphere to win was the Barbarians in 1981, led by current England coach Clive Woodward. England also became the first Northern Hemisphere team to win a tournament on the IRB World Series, now in its third year.

England entered the game without Phil Greening, cited for an alleged stamp during the semi-final victory over Wales.

The Wasps man was shown a yellow card after an incident involving Newport wing Emyr Lewis. But officials decided to report him two minutes before the hour deadline had expired, leaving him unavailable for selection.

Greening found out as he walked on to the pitch for the final, but his disappointment at missing out was soothed by his team-mates' magnificent performance.

He said: "It wasn't till the last few seconds that I found out. I actually walked on the pitch. Joe called me back and said it was a last-minute thing, and we can't do anything about it.

"I was pretty gutted really, having worked so hard to be there.

"It seems I am destined never to play in a final. I've had no luck - before I've had injuries or been cup-tied.

"It's a bit harsh, but I'm just glad we got the right outcome. It seemed to help the boys. They were really disappointed for me, and the last thing I said on the pitch was 'Make sure you do it for me, and let's come away with something'.

"We've got some great boys in our team and we showed a lot of character. The boys dug in. We had a hard game against Wales and only about an hour to get ourselves back up for this game, but it shows the heart and character of the boys."

Fiji, as usual, began strongly and scored the opening try when Epeli Ruivadra completed a long period of possession that saw the ball pass through the hands of nearly the whole team.

But Waisale Serevi's kick at the restart got stuck in the mud and didn't go the required 10 meters. Amor took the tap penalty on halfway, then, realising no-one was at home at the back, skipped past the first line of defence and almost trotted home as the cover was too slow coming across.

Amor kicked the conversion, one of several from difficult angles. Fiji hit straight back when Aporosa Dauvucu broke down the left and passed inside to Vili Satala, who took on the England defence to create space for Sami Rabaka to charge through on the inside and return the lead back to Fiji 10-7.

But on the stroke of half-time, Simpson-Daniel stepped outside Jo Uluivuda and raced 70 meters up the wing to score and give England a 14-10 half-time advantage.

Early in the second period, Serevi made a great break up to halfway from behind his own line, but got turned over in the mud and Henry Paul, the former League player, hoofed the ball towards the Fijian posts for Simpson-Daniel to chase. No-one had come across to cover for Serevi, so the England wing had an easy touchdown ahead of him.

Moments later, Paul pinched the ball from the base of a Fijian ruck when no Fijian halfback was in sight and got the ball out to Gloucester's Ben Gollings, who scored under the posts.

Fiji gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Serevi and Satala worked together to free Dauvucu for their third try, but Simpson-Daniel completed his hat trick out wide when Asiveni Lutumailagi slipped.

Simpson-Daniel paid tribute to his Kingsholm teammate, saying: "Henry Paul and Ben Gollings were brilliant.

"I just had to jog it in and put it down. They were brilliant, and thanks to them I managed to get the tries.

"To be honest I can't remember them! It's all been such a big shock."

England booked their place in the final with a 17-12 victory over Wales.

The Cup semi-finals are the farthest Wales have ever progressed in the Hong Kong

Scotland's tournament ended with an appearance against the South Africans in the Plate final - something few would have believed possible after defeat to Portugal on Friday but a step too far for them which ended in a 48-7 defeat.

It was unarguably England's day, particularly after their 50-10 Lloyds TSB Six Nations win over Wales at Twickenham on Saturday - and XV-a-side coach Clive Woodward said: "The victory in Hong Kong makes this a fantastic weekend for English rugby and underlines the importance of seven-a-side rugby to the international team

"All the players taking part will benefit hugely from this experience."

Lutumailagi scored the final try of the match as Fiji persevered for
pride, but it was England who ended up worthy winners 33-20.

In the Semi-finals, Fiji defeated IRB Series leaders New Zealand 10-7 with Bill Satala displaying all of his awesome talent, while England came out 19-12 winners over Wales in a beautifully even contest display.

Against old foes New Zealand, Fiji played with more conviction to qualify for their eighth successive Hong Kong final and their 18th altogether in 27 years.

The first half was scoreless, but soon after the break, Serevi became creator once more as he stopped to check the situation, then threw out a huge double cut-out pass to Satala, lurking out wide.

Satala powered towards the line with a trail of Kiwis behind him, then decided to go through Jared Going rather than around him to score the try.

Three minutes from time, Serevi put Fiji 10-0 up. He jiggled out of a tight spot and passed inside to Saiasi Fuli who made good ground before giving it back to his skipper. Serevi, with the line in sight, raced forward and slid in to score from five meters out as the posse of chasing Kiwis skidded with him in the wet.

Josh Blackie touched down for New Zealand one minute after the hooter, but by then it was all over.

England made hard work of the passionate Welsh, twice allowing them back into the game. Josh Lewsey scored the winning try after an interception.

South Africa, beaten by Canada in pool play, won the Plate with a 48-7 victory over Scotland, who had early beaten Portugal and the USA to reach the final. A hat trick of tries from skipper Paul Treu and two from speedster Brent Russell did the damage to win the final.

Morocco picked up the Bowl 15-12 in an intriguing contest with Chinese Taipei, who had snatched a victory over Russia early in the day.

In other matches Singapore's celebrated a victory of 19-17 against Japan, and China defeated Thailand 38-17. France completed a miraculous double over Korea in the Plate, beating them 28-26 with a Fred Lartigue try after the hooter. Lartigue had performed a similar feat in pool play by scoring in injury time for a 21-19 win.

The Hong Kong Sevens, again, brought out all the excitement and fun of sevens with some fantastic battles, superb rugby and huge upsets, all to the delight of the capacity crowd.

The IRB Sevens Series stays in Asia for tournaments next month in Singapore and Malaysia, before moving to Europe.

Day Three Results:

Quarter Finals

New Zealand 24
Argentina 0

Fiji 33
Australia 17

Samoa 5
England 19

Wales 21
Canada 0

Cup Semi-Finals

New Zealand 7
Fiji 10

England 19
Waleas 12


Fiji 20
England 33

Plate Competition Quarter-Finals:

South Africa 40
Papua New Guinea 0

Korea 26
France 28

Portugal 7
Scotland 12

Hong Kong 12
USA 34


South Africa 26
France 5

Scotland 14
USA 10


Bowl Competition

Japan 17
Singapore 19

Chinese Taipei 10
Russia 5

Morocco 14
Sri Lanka 5

Thailand 17
China 38


Singapore 0
Chinese Taipei 41

Morocco 33
China 5


Chinese Taipei 12
Morocco 15

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.