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Fiji retain World Sevens Series at Twickenham

Published 21/05/2016

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Fiji retained their World Sevens Series title by qualifying for the HSBC London Sevens quarter-finals, despite a surprise defeat to hosts England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Fiji slipped to a 31-10 defeat to England in Saturday's pool stages, where NFL convert Jarryd Hayne made a low-key Sevens debut for coach Ben Ryan's side.

But a 42-5 win over Wales and a comprehensive 26-0 victory over Australia secured Fiji's safe passage to Sunday's knock-out stages in London, and with it this season's overall series title.

England's win over Fiji helped them top Pool A and book a quarter-final against Scotland, but it was the South Sea Islanders who had the most celebrating to do on Saturday night.

"We have got a huge amount of players back home who have done some magnificent things for Fiji but have never won back-to-back series titles," said Fiji boss Ryan, the former England coach.

"We had a difficult opening match but they were fighting tooth and nail there, just like against South Africa last year and they weren't going to take a backward step.

"That was outstanding and it is a group of players I am very proud of."

Fiji's consecutive Sevens Series titles marks them out among the favourites for Olympic success in Rio this summer, with Ryan and company desperate to claim the country's first gold medal.

While Fiji might boast one of the deepest Sevens talent pools in the world, Ryan was still moved to hand former San Francisco 49ers NFL star Hayne his competitive debut in short-format rugby.

The 28-year-old former rugby league star has abandoned his NFL career in a bid for Olympic glory, but has yet to set Sevens alight after his switch.

Kenya's Collins Injera became the World Sevens Series' highest try-scorer of all time, moving onto 231 tries, one past Argentina's Santiago Gomez Cora.

England followed up their Fiji blitz with an edgy 10-7 win over Australia, before easing past Wales 24-5 to secure that last-eight showdown with Scotland.

South Africa topped Pool A to book a last-eight meeting with Argentina, while France's reward for winning Pool C was a daunting quarter-final clash with Fiji.

New Zealand will face the USA in the quarter-finals, with England's Scotland clash completing the main draw.

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