And that’s a wrap from Los Angeles.
The 2022 HSBC Los Angeles Sevens provided 45 matches over the weekend as the 2021-22 season came to an end.
In the end, New Zealand was victorious as it topped Fiji 28-21 in the cup final. However, Australia took home the 2021-22 season title with a bronze-medal placement in Los Angeles, marking the nation’s first ever first-place finish in the rugby sevens series.
With the tournament in the books, here are the winners and losers from Los Angeles:
Winner: New Zealand
The All Blacks make the first entry on this list but not just because of their cup title. They missed out on the first four tournaments of the 2021-22 season due to COVID-19 restrictions, yet still managed to finish in the top half of the series standings after playing in the final five competitions.
New Zealand (80 points) finished just one point off seventh-place France, and it ended the season on a high note with gold. Its highest finishes this season were two silver medals in Singapore and London.
Loser: South Africa
The Springboks came into the tournament in good shape. They were first in the standings and multiple permutations went their way in terms of what they needed to do to ensure the series title. However, after missing key players like Selvyn Davids due to injury, South Africa completely unraveled in Los Angeles.
It failed to make it out of Pool B and lost to Wales in the 13th-place semifinals, so it only collected three out of a possible 22 points from Los Angeles. However, South Africa managed a second-place finish from the 2021-22 season, but it wasn’t a good showing ahead of the World Cup next month in its backyard.
Wales gets a small blurb here after doing the unthinkable against South Africa. Wales’ rugby program is still a long ways away from ever competing for a tournament or cup title, but beating a team like South Africa could boost its confidence. No one will predict them to jump too high in the standings next season after a 15th-place finish this time, but they were David against Goliath in Los Angeles.
Los Pumas were in pole position to either finish first or second, which would’ve been their highest ever finish. They entered Los Angeles in third place and an opening was created after South Africa’s drop early on. However, with no Marcos Moneta on the squad due to a late injury, the Argentines didn’t have enough to finish at least in the top four.
It lost to Samoa in a thrilling quarterfinal match and finished fourth in the entire season, just behind Fiji, which just edged them after finishing second in Los Angeles.
France is gradually emerging in the standings. It competed extremely well against tougher teams like Ireland and Fiji in Pool C before winning its last four games en route to beating Scotland 33-0 in the ninth-place playoff game. Argentina has been a recent example of a rising country in rugby sevens, so France feels like a reasonable shout as the team that’s next up.
You hate to do it to them, but the U.S. didn’t have a great homecoming in Los Angeles. It started off strong with a win over South Africa in the tournament opener, but were eliminated by Fiji in the quarterfinals.
The Eagles then struggled in placement matches and lost to a Kenya side that finished 12th on the season. They collected 10 out of a possible 22 points to finish sixth, which is not bad, but they were six points away from edging Ireland for fifth.