Fiji, US taking rugby sevens title race to last day in Paris
PARIS (AP) — Fiji and the United States are taking the race to the world rugby sevens series title to the last day after both reached the Paris Sevens quarterfinals unbeaten on Saturday.
Fiji leads the U.S. by two points overall after nine legs. Fiji is trying to win the title a fourth time, while the United States is going for its first. The Americans’ previous best finish was fifth.
They are drawn to meet in the semifinals on Sunday, but first Fiji must get through host France, and the U.S. will have to get by Kenya. Both series leaders should at Stade Jean Bouin.
Fiji, which took the series lead only last weekend in winning the London Sevens, was impressively serious in sweeping its pool and scoring 132 points.
Fiji smashed England 52-14 with eight tries by eight different scorers, was given a hurry-up by Argentina before winning 40-26, then finished by smashing tournament guest cIreland 40-5.
The U.S. lost Folau Niua to a serious leg injury in its second game against Samoa, which was beaten 33-14. The U.S. opened by drubbing Spain, and finished with a pool sweep by getting out of a tricky match with neighbor Canada a 26-12 winner.
New Zealand, third overall, also won its pool from Scotland, Japan, and France.
South Africa, the series champion the previous two years, qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, three years after winning the bronze medal in the Rio de Janeiro Games. South Africa won all three of its matches on Saturday against Wales, Kenya, and Australia.
Also, Japan was set to be relegated despite a strong bid to keep its core status. Japan upset France, led New Zealand 14-12 before being overwhelmed, and led Scotland until a late try, which was then converted by Gavin Lowe from a sharp angle for the Scots to win 22-21.