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Monday, June 05, 2006

Fiji crowned London and IRB Sevens champions

Fiji were the toast of Twickenham this morning as they capped a superb year and a first IRB Sevens Series triumph with a Cup victory in the season's final event, the Emirates Airline London Sevens. The victory in the final, 54-15 against a valiant Samoa, took the Fijian tally for the season to 144 series points, 22 ahead of closest rivals England and 34 clear of third placed South Africa. New Zealand finish fourth on 76 ahead of Samoa on 72.

Even without the combined talents of Ryder, Dranivasa and Daunivucu, ominously Serevi's men had far too much in the tank as Lupeni Nabuliwaqa, Sereli Naqelevuki and captain Semisi Naevo inspired the side to one final win of the season, fighting back from a one-point half time deficit to score six unanswered tries.

Currently the Rugby World Cup Sevens, IRB Sevens and World Games Sevens champions, Fiji - under the tutelage of Serevi - have re-emerged this year as the team in World Sevens. Only the Commonwealth Games title eluded them, held onto by hitherto perennial IRB Sevens title holders New Zealand.

"It's a fantastic moment for Fiji," said Serevi. "The players have made a lot of sacrifices that have paid off and I thank them and their families for that and salute them for a wonderful performance in the series and here today.

The great man also hinted that it may now be time to hang up the boots on match day and inspire the new young breed from the technical zone.

"I think it might be time now not only to wear the tracksuit, but also the big jumpers, big jackets and the pom-pom and the bags, and to be on the outside cheering for them", said Waisale Serevi, Fiji player/coach.

As if to symbolise the passing of the trophy from one rugby obsessed country to another, Fiji and New Zealand had earlier put on one of the contests of the day in the Cup semi final. New Zealand, astonishingly after a first Cup win this season, looked in confident mood and were in control until the dying seconds, when Laisiasa Tora went over to quash the challenge and reaffirm Fiji's dominance.

Samoa had outplayed an injury-hit England to reach the final with captain Uale Mai again pulling the strings in their 15-7 semi final. IRB Sevens series top try scorer Timoteo Iosua grabbed the pick of the tries after catching a tantalising cross-kick and going in at the corner. The same man scored in the final to take his tally for the year to 40.



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