Rugby sevens: The story so far!

Five enthralling rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series are now behind us, and there are just five remaining until the sport makes its Olympic Games debut in Rio with the halfway stage reached.

It's been a sensational first half to the 2015-16 series with Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand sharing the five Cup titles on offer, with the three sides separated by just nine points at the top of the standings following Ben Ryan's side's second Cup win of the season in Las Vegas.

Sonny Bill Williams and Quade Cooper have made their sevens debuts, with Francois Hougaard, Henry Speight, Juan de Jongh and Bryan Habana all making the cross over from Rugby World Cup 2015, and the likes of Nick Cummins still to show his face on the series before the Olympic Games.

Paired with the continued emergence of the USA, Argentina's first Cup final since 2009, Kenya embedding themselves back into the top eight teams, and sevens heroes such as Vatemo Ravouvou, Seabelo Senatla, Pio Tuwai, Collins Injera and Tom Mitchell all continuing to show the world their capabilities, it's been amazing to witness.

Ahead of round six, an inaugural tournament in Vancouver, we take a look back to the opening encounters.


Fiji got their title defence off to a winning start in a typically flying Fijian way. Beating Australia, New Zealand and England on day two to lift the title, they were ably led by captain Osea Kolinisau. The 2014-15 rookie of the year Jerry Tuwai, who was named the player of the final, and namesake Pio were also central to the victory. Ryan can take pride in his Dubai record - this was his fourth victory at 7he Sevens Stadium in six years - which enabled Fiji to begin in style.

Elsewhere Mike Friday's USA picked up where they left off in London with their first-ever victory over New Zealand on day one, backed up with their second over Sir Gordon Tietjens' side on day two to finish third, while Hougaard made his sevens debut and scored the winning try for South Africa to claim the Plate. Sonny Bill Williams was also yet to make his sevens debut, but his presence was one of the talking points of the weekend.


A first final since 2009 for Argentina was perhaps a surprise, but four different semi-finalists from Dubai was not as the competitiveness in sevens was once again on display. There were shades of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 quarter finals with Los Pumas beating New Zealand, Kenya the USA and France taking the win against Fiji in an entertaining 90 minutes of sevens at the Cape Town Stadium.

The Blitzboks were the overall winners, thanks to a 29-14 win over Argentina as they won the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens, making it three successive home tournament wins for Neil Powell's side with Justin Geduld named the player of the final, and Cheslin Kolbe's devastating step breaking through defences all weekend.

France, who finished 11th overall in the 2014-15 season, had their best tournament for a long time with a third-place finish, while Fiji won the Plate to remain top of the standings, Scotland won the Bowl and Samoa the Shield as 106,202 fans turned out for the two-day event in its first year.


Heading into their home tournament, New Zealand sat an unfamiliar seventh in the standings. Injuries had halted their performance in Cape Town and Dubai, but with the likes of Ben Lam, Akira Ioane and Kurt Baker all recalled they were an unstoppable force on home soil.

Rieko Ioane had stolen the headlines in his debut tournament 12 months previously and once again impressed, scoring two in the final, and there were enthralling scenes at the Westpac Stadium as the hosts snatched a 24-21 victory at the death to claim a hat-trick of Wellington titles and a fifth in six years thanks to a match-winning try from Joe Webber, having trailed 14-0 and 21-7.

Australia won the Plate, Samoa lifted the Bowl and France went from a third-place finish in Cape Town to winning the Shield in the absence of Virimi Vakatawa, who made his debut in the Six Nations, and an injury to Terry Bouhraoua.


Another sold-out event on the series, 37,095 fans turned out on day two of the HSBC Sydney Sevens to witness Tietjens' side go back to back at the Allianz Stadium.

Having never led in the final, Rieko Ioane once again impressed in a final, scoring his hat-trick try with the last play of the match to give New Zealand another dramatic victory. His brother Akira won a second successive HSBC Player of the Final award, while much of the talk around the Sydney Sevens was that of Quade Cooper as he had his first training session under new coach Andy Friend despite not making his debut on the series.

Lewis Holland stepped up with Cooper watching on the sidelines, while a star was also born in 18-year-old Henry Hutchison who came off the bench to turn the semi-final against England around, before adding two tries in the final.

The win brought the top three sides together level on points heading to Las Vegas after Fiji beat South Africa to reclaim top spot by just points difference. Argentina won the Plate, Canada lifted the Bowl and the Shield went to Wales.


Fiji were hit witth a virus in the week leading into the Las Vegas tournament which, added to the difficulties they faced due to Cyclone Winston to get to Las Vegas, made their win even more remarkable.

"Stronger than Winston" was the cry when Ben Ryan's side lifted a second Cup of the season, and they certainly proved that. Osea Kolinisau led impeccably as captain once more, ably assisted by Jasa Veremalua in the forwards and Savenaca Rawaca in the backs. The win gives them some breathing space at the top of the standings as they continue the defence of their series title.

Elsewhere Bryan Habana returned after a 12-year absence to rugby sevens, Liam Messam after six and Quade Cooper made his debut. Japan reached only a third ever Cup quarter final, Scotland beat England with the latter finishing with a Shield semi final defeat for a tournament they'd like to forget, and there was silverware for Samoa in the Shield and New Zealand in the Plate.

Perry Baker was one of the standout players for the hosts USA, while Sam Myers and Allan Fa'alava'au were for an Australian side that reached a second successive Cup final in Andy Friend's second tournament as head coach.

So what next? An inaugural Canada Sevens in Vancouver this weekend where tickets are 95 per cent sold and an event will take place under a closed roof for the first time at BC Place.