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Dubai (AFP) – South Africa hosted a Cup quarter-final with Samoa at the Dubai leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series, although Olympic champions Fiji missed out on the competition’s elite draw.
With qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics resting on this season’s standings, the stakes are high and that was demonstrated on the opening day in the United Arab Emirates.
South Africa have been winners of five of the last six tournaments in Dubai, including twice last season when the events were played on back-to-back weekends as organizers juggled post-pandemic travel issues.
And the Blitzboks beat Kenya 27-17 and Australia 19-12 before being beaten 14-5 by Great Britain.
But the British side went down 28-19 to the Wallabies, who won the opening leg of the season in Hong Kong and will now face the United States in the quarter-finals.
Although Fiji beat Uruguay 52-0, they lost 24-7 to New Zealand, who topped their group and were left needing to beat Argentina by 10 points to advance.
But the Fijians could only win 17-12, by five points, meaning Los Pumas and the Kiwis progressed to face unbeaten Ireland and France in the Cup quarter-finals respectively.
The United States also finished undefeated on day one after beating Canada 19-14 and Japan 43-7, then sealing a tight 14-12 win over Samoa.
In the women’s competition, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland achieved three consecutive victories.
The top four teams in each competition at the end of the World Series will be guaranteed a spot in the Paris 2024 lineup.
Quarter-finals of the Cup
Argentina – Ireland, United States – Australia, France – New Zealand, South Africa – Samoa
New Zealand – Great Britain, Ireland – United States, France – Spain, Australia – Fiji
© 2022 AFP