10 classic moments from 10 years of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series

To celebrate HSBC’s decade-long title partnership with the World Rugby Sevens Series, we pick out some of the highlights from that time in both the men’s and women’s series.

HSBC has been the title partner of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for 10 years. In that time the sport has travelled to 106 tournaments in 25 cities across the globe.

Fans and viewers have been treated to some amazing drama and brilliant individual moments of skill over the last 10 years, some of which we’ve highlighted below in the build-up to the World Rugby Awards Special Edition. Watch the awards show live at 20:00 GMT on Monday, 7 December to see who is named Men’s Sevens Player of the Decade and Women’s Sevens Player of the Decade, both awards in association with HSBC.

We begin our trip down memory lane with a try from the gods, scored by two-time Men’s Sevens Player of the Year (2017 and 2018) and Men’s Sevens Player of the Decade, Perry Baker.

Baker goes coast to coast

You won’t see too many better tries on the world series than Perry Baker’s sensational effort against Fiji in the Las Vegas semi-finals in March 2018. When Baker received the ball on his own try line there looked no way out of ‘coffin corner’ as three Fijian defenders closed in on him. But with a step here and a step there, and a shimmy of the hips, Perry extricated himself from the hole his team-mates had dug for him. Once a glimmer of space opened up, Baker turned on the after-burners and left the defence for dead. Truly remarkable.

Fiji show they are stronger than Winston

Vegas has had its fair share of special moments and from an emotional level who could forget Fiji’s win there in 2016. Fiji had an added motivation to bring back the silverware. Cyclone Winston had devastated the Pacific island, causing widespread damage and loss to families across the country. Captain Osea Kolinisau had said he wanted to "bring hope" to his fellow Fijians back home, and with a stunning comeback against Australia in the Cup final his side did just that.

No points mean prizes for Caslick & Co.

Australia’s men won the Rugby World Cup in 1999 conceding only one try throughout the whole tournament. But the Australian women’s sevens team went one better at the Sydney Sevens in 2018, winning the title without conceding a single point. Aussie Sevens coach John Manenti hailed Charlotte Caslick as the "best player in the world" for the part she played in that success.

Give that man an Oscar!

Kenya's physicality and ability to convert turnover ball into tries has been the undoing of many sides on the series, as all-conquering New Zealand found out to their cost on home soil in 2013.

Tries from former World Rugby Men’s Sevens Players of the Year, Tomasi Cama and Tim Mikkelson, had given the All Blacks Sevens a 14-0 lead and all looked lost for Kenya in the Wellington semi-final. But the Africans fought back to score tries through Oscar Ouma and Collins Injera and take the game into extra-time. Drawing on what little energy they had left, Kenya stripped New Zealand of possession and Ouma crashed through the tackle of Belgium Tuatagaloa to score the match-winning try.

Norton races in for the record

What better place to break the all-time record for world series tries than Hong Kong? When England winger Dan Norton touched down under the posts against Korea at the tournament in 2017, it was his 245th series try, taking him clear of Kenya’s Collins Injera. Norton did not stop there; he added another century of tries onto his tally before COVIID-19 stopped him in his tracks on 354.

Miracle play

Outrageous offloads are commonplace when Fiji take to the field in sevens, but the one Sevuloni Mocenacagi performed against Australia at this year’s LA Sevens was on another level. Even after several re-watches, it is hard to fathom how he got the ball to Jerry Tuwai. Mike Friday has seen most things in his time with England, Kenya and now the USA, but he was even rubbing his eyes in disbelief. “I’ve not seen an out-the-back offload like it in all my time on the series,” he admitted. “Ridiculous, just ridiculous!”

What? No Fiji?

It is unheard of for Fiji not to be in the mix for the medal positions at a world series tournament, but that’s exactly what happened in Dubai in 2019.

For the first time in the 21-year history of the series, Fiji failed to make it through to the Cup quarter-finals after finishing third behind France and Argentina in what must rank as the most competitive pool ever.

The three teams all won two matches and lost one to finish on seven points, but France and Argentina's points difference, at +28 and +27, respectively, was superior to Fiji's +14. Fiji's downfall was a 24-21 loss to Argentina, who capitalised on a yellow card for Vilimoni Botitu to work Matías Moroni over with the final play of the game and cause the shock of the day at The Sevens Stadium in the United Arab Emirates city.

France stun New Zealand in a catch-22

The Black Ferns Sevens were on a 38-match unbeaten run when they came up against France to determine who would go through to the Kitakyushu Sevens quarter-finals in 2019. France were truly inspired and at their clinical best in the Pool A decider, scoring on all five of their visits to the New Zealand 22, including a brace for Anne-Cécile Ciofani. It had taken 22 attempts, but France had finally taken the scalp of New Zealand on the world series. 

Sydney goes all-American

In 19 consecutive tournaments dating back to the second event of the inaugural 2012/13 season, the Cup final had involved either New Zealand or Australia or both.

The Sydney Sevens in 2017 was going according to the script, too, with both powerhouses of the women’s game making it through to the last four. However, USA stunned New Zealand with a 19-12 victory and Canada matched it by beating the hosts 21-17 in a bruising second semi to set up the first-ever all-American final. Canada took the gold medal.

New Zealand refuse to accept defeat

New Zealand’s record of making every Cup quarter-final looked certain to end at the Cape Town Sevens in 2017, as they trailed hosts South Africa in the final match of Pool A.

Down and out with the score 21-14 to the Blitzbokke and just 20 seconds left on the clock, New Zealand showed all their champion qualities to find a way to win and stun the partisan home crowd. Sione Molia’s second try, crucially converted by Andrew Knewstubb, got them back on level terms and forced the match into extra time. 70 seconds into added time, New Zealand threw the ball wide and Vilimoni Koroi dived over in the left corner before being swamped by his team-mates.

Tune into the World Rugby Awards

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the global game, the World Rugby Awards Special Edition replaces the usual annual World Rugby Awards and will celebrate members of the rugby family who have provided outstanding service to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic and players and teams who have starred over the last decade in a unique and innovative virtual event.

The Awards show will be co-hosted by former England international and World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Maggie Alphonsi and rugby presenter Alex Payne. Fans across the globe are encouraged to get involved in the social conversation using #WorldRugbyAwards. Tune in to discover who will be named the Men’s Sevens Player of the Decade and the Women’s Sevens Player of the Decade, in association with HSBC.

Watch here at 20:00 GMT on Monday, 7 December >>

Last updated: Dec 4, 2020, 3:40:44 PM
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