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New Zealand win Vancouver Sevens, Blitzboks 4th

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New Zealand beat Australia 17-14 to win the Vancouver Sevens on Sunday and solidify their lead in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

MATCH CENTRE | Vancouver Sevens

The Blitzboks finished fourth after losing 26-19 to hosts Canada in the Bronze Final, having earlier lost 27-15 to the All Blacks Sevens in the semi-final.

Second-half yellow cards to Maurice Longbottom and Lachie Miller proved costly for Australia as New Zealand came from behind to win their third sevens title this season after triumphs in Cape Town and Hamilton.

Australia had a chance to claim a victory after New Zealand’s Sam Dickson was sin-binned late, but a wild forward pass from Lewis Holland allowed the Kiwis to hang on.

Australia were down by two men with four minutes remaining when Joe Ravouvou scored his second try to put New Zealand ahead.

Australia had dominated the opening five minutes, but managed to score just once on a try from Anderson.

Ravouvou dotted down for New Zealand’s first try, but Australia led 14-5 at halftime after a breakaway try by Longbottom.

After Longbottom was sin-binned for a high tackle early in the second half Andrew Knewstubb’s try trimmed the deficit to two points.

Miller was then shown a yellow card over a late tackle and New Zealand took advantage.

New Zealand top the standings on 115 points with South Africa second on 104. Fiji are third on 83 and Australia fourth on 81.

Earlier on Sunday, suffocating defence had keyed New Zealand’s 17-5 quarter-final win over Fiji.

Tries from Tim Mikkelson and Sione Molia saw New Zealand take a 12-0 halftime lead as the Fijians struggled to get their running game going.

Fiji’s lone try, by Josua Vakurunabili, came with New Zealand down a man. But the All Blacks Sevens responded by securing the ball on the re-start and finishing with a try from Joe Ravouvou.

Two tries from Caleb Clark, along with one each from Mikkelson, Etene Nanai-Seturo and Sam Dickson gave New Zealand a 27-15 win over South Africa in the semis.

Australia downed England 31-12 in the quarters, then ended the dream run of Canada – who had beaten Spain 21-0 to reach the final four – with a dramatic 19-14 semi-final win.

Australia led by five going into the final seconds only for Canada to win a turnover and seize a chance to snatch the victory.

The hosts appeared to have pulled it off when Theo Sauder burst through the defensive line, but a video review showed he had lost the ball over the line.

Canada had grabbed the opening try before Lachie Miller evaded his Canadian pursuers and offloaded to Nick Malouf, who got it back to Anderson for an equalising try.

A try from Henry Hutchinson and another from Miller followed in quick succession. But a try from Mike Fuailefau saw Canada narrow the deficit to five points with less than two minutes remaining.

Although they didn’t make it to the final, Canada finished on a high note with a victory over South Africa in the bronze medal match.

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7s World Cup

Ireland’s World Cup Hopes Rekindled As Virtuoso Beibhinn Parsons Performance Sees Italy Off

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Cometh the hour, cometh the Galway girl.

eibhinn Parsons’ stunning individual display kept her hopes of a maiden World Cup voyage alive, a trademark try and a spectacular scything run to create another on the hour mark dragging fitful Ireland over the line against Italy.

It is one thing to complement a World Cup not involving the Irish; but denying the global stage to the Ballinasloe bomber would be a travesty. A world class competition demands the presence of a world class player.

Adam Griggs’ side needed to win in Parma to avoid elimination from this round-robin tournament and, although their performance was well below average, similar Italian incompetence and Parsons’ remarkable efforts rescued his side.

Defeating Scotland next weekend with a bonus point, after denying the Italians one today, could still bank an automatic World Cup slot for the Irish without recourse to a repechage.

The wild full-time celebrations reflected the importance of this victory; they must now complete the job against the Scots next week when both a performance and a result would be welcome.

This was a victory founded upon defence; Ireland wasted many opportunities and their set-piece work was again abysmal but Italy’s off-loading game never prospered.

Parsons’ 28th minute try calmed Irish nerves but the Italians were ahead in the 51st minute when Beatrice Rigoni score a stunning try which was converted for 7-5.

But the Italians couldn’t cope with Parsons’s awesome strength and running ability as she beat seven defenders en route to creating the clinching try from Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe in the 61st minute, Stacey Flood’s conversion adding to an earlier penalty.

Italy, as they had done all day, huffed and puffed but Ireland, even as the errors multiplied, were out of reach.

Close

The Ireland team stand for the national anthem during the Rugby World Cup 2022 Europe Qualifying Tournament match against Italy at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma. Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Eve Higgins’ return had been the only change made to the backline, an admission from the management that the decision to parachute Sevens’ player Lucy Mulhall in for a debut had mis-fired, and she dropped out of the matchday 23.

Ireland also shuffled their under-performing pack with three changes, bringing in Laura Feely for veteran Lindsay Peat at loose-head prop to join Cliodhna Moloney and Linda Djougang in the front row.

Sam Monaghan, who also debuted last week before exiting prematurely after illegally collapsing a maul, earned a first test start, with Nichola Fryday in the second row as Aoife McDermott was also excised from the squad.

Edel McMahon replaced the benched Brittany Hogan at openside in a re-modelled back-row, meaning captain Ciara Griffin reverted to number eight while Dorothy Wall switched to six.

The return of Clare Molloy from exile was arguably the most significant selection call of them all, an admission of culpability from the management as well as a reflection of the dire straits now immersing the Irish.

With Italy intent on running the ball from deep, operating close to the ruck off centurion Sara Barratin’s dominant direction, Ireland were able to defend with relative ease in their opponent’s territory.

A couple of forced turnovers on the floor offered initial encouragement to their defence; a scrum penalty concession re-awakened concerns about their set-piece implosion against Spain last Monday with Feely visibly struggling.

A rumbling lineout maul that prompted an Italian illegal collapse was a far better portent; at least it would have been had not the Irish coughed up the five-metre throw.

The Italians gleefully ran the ball from their try-line to the 10-metre whitewash; the home side were clearly not going to die wondering as they sought to confirm their World Cup slot.

Ireland’s defence held solid – they seemed to slow ruck ball at will – as this did their turf as the Italian eschewed any thought of kicking for territory.

When Ireland did, after a rare functioning attacking scrum on the Italian 10-metre line, it was an odd call and Stacey Flood’s punt went dead; almost predictably, the Italians earned a penalty and Feely’s action was attracting the attention of ref Hollie Davidson.

Captain Ciara Griffin and Moloney were dominant on the floor, stemming the Italian tide as it briefly washed into the Irish 22.

The match had crept into the second quarter before Beibhinn Parsons got her first touch of the ball and she immediately defeated two defenders before the move faltered.

And then a stunning transfer east-west, including a deft wrap-around in midfield off Flood, signalled growing Irish comfort and Italian unease.

Flood’s 25th minute penalty effort arrived as a direct result but from no distance, her effort caromed off the post, a reminder of Ireland’s perennial out-half difficulties.

Ireland were, though, now dominant and asking defensive questions, Parsons also becoming more prominent and, almost inevitably, the emerging star would break the deadlock.

After a rumbling maul was stemmed just short of the line, the halves shifted the ball economically to the wing where, oddly, scrum-half Sara Barrattini was marking the Galwegian; none of her 100 caps prepared her for this match-up.

Flood missed the conversion and Parsons soon put her side under pressure, conceding a penalty for a deliberate knock-on while tackling Maria Magatti.

Now Italy went to their maul, Griffin effected one try-saving tackle on rumbling prop Gaia Maris as the Italians launched their first sustained spell of pressure close to the line and close to half-time.

These were pivotal moments and the outcome would prove decisive to both sides’ mood.

That Ireland could shove the next maul into touch buoyed theirs; even more so when Flood’s audacious dummy and searing run from near her own line fully lifted the siege before the teams took their half-time breather.

Ireland started the second-half like a train, Clermont-bound Linda Djougang bouncing beyond befuddled blue-clad defenders before being hauled down five metres short.

Yet again, Ireland struggled to be clinical and, even when finally winning a scrum, handling errors undid their approach work.

They were given every chance as the Italians bafflingly refused to exit their 22 with the boot as they persisted with a running game Ireland were competently suffocating.

Just as they were assuming some control, Eimear Considine was binned for a high shot on Michela Sillari in the 47th minute; more sterling work on the floor, now by Eve Higgins, yet again stymied the Italians.

But they couldn’t hold a stunning 51st minute counter-attack try, a superb score out of kilter in a turgid affair.

It stemmed from Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe’s aimless punt and a pallid chase; Barratin ran unmolested for about 40 metres before linking up with her captain Manuela Furlan.

She found Beatrice Rogoni steaming up on her outside and she burned the despairing cover, and a flailing tackle attempt by Griffin, to claim the try and, thanks to a stunning conversion from Michela Signoli, the lead.

However, Rogoni was binned moments later for a deliberate knock-on as Ireland renewed their efforts, just as Considine returned from her naughty step.

Astonishingly, or perhaps not, Ireland lost another five-metre throw with the line at their mercy.

They did win a penalty which Flood almost tapped; another reminder of last Monday’s collective brain freezes.

Mercifully, Griffin encouraged her to take a shot and, unlike the first-half, she made no mistake and Ireland regained the lead, 18-7, as the hour mark approached.

Molloy arrived on as Ireland sought to calmly negotiate the endgame.

And then, from her left wing post, Parsons exploded into life with a stunning, slaloming run from inside her own half, beating six defenders and creating enough space on the other flank for a huge over-lap that even a fitful Ireland couldn’t mess up.

Murphy Crowe atoned for her earlier slip by completing a try but Parsons was truly its author; Flood’s extras meant Ireland could finally breathe a little in the stifling heat, 15-7 ahead with 18 minutes left.

Italy: V Ostuni Minuzzi (A Muzzi 73); M Furlan capt, M Sillari, B Rigoni, M Magatti; V Madia, S Barattin (S Stefan 77); G Maris, M Bettoni (V Vecchini 66), L Gai, V Fedrighi, G Duca, I Arrighetti, F Sgorbini (I Locatelli 77), E Giordano.

Ireland: E Considine; A-L Murphy Crowe, E Higgins, S Naoupu, B Parsons; S Flood (E Breen 78), K Dane (E Dane 80); L Feely (L Peat 53), C Moloney, L Djougang, N Fryday, S Monaghan, D Wall, E McMahon (C Molloy 58), C Griffin (C) (B Hogan 73).

Replacements: N Jones, L Peat, L Lyons, B Hogan, C Molloy, E Lane, E Breen, L Delany

Ref: H Davidson (Scotland)

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Is Wales’ Jasmine Joyce the fastest rugby player on the planet?

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Jasmine Joyce’s incredible covering tackle (Credit: World Rugby Sevens) / Jasmine at Tokyo Olympics (Credit: WRU)

We’re not saying Jasmine Joyce IS the quickest female rugby player on the planet, but after watching her exploits at yesterday’s World Sevens Rugby tournament, we’ll take some convincing there is anyone who possesses the lightning turn of pace that the Welsh woman does.

Playing for Team GB in their 41-12 victory against the USA, in the sevens tournament being held in Vancouver, she was at least 10 yards behind American flyer Jaz Gray, who is one of the quickest players in the world game.

However, not only did Joyce track her opponent down like a cheetah hunting its prey, she took out the American with a covering tackle that exemplified her fierce determination, much to the admiration of the commentators who were evidently shocked at what they had witnessed.

Jasmine Joyce’s exploits also impressed those reacting to a video of the incident posted on Twitter.

One Twitter user posted: ‘Wow. The speed! She almost got a ticket!’

Another gushed: ‘Ridiculous tackle. World class!’ While another exclaimed: ‘Yes! Go Roadrunner!’

Joyce is fast becoming one of the most talked about names in world rugby.

Slippery as an eel

The Welsh flyer was one of the stars of Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics scoring seven tries in six appearances.

“I love playing sevens regardless of whether it is for Team GB, Wales or whoever,” she said in an interview with the World Rugby Sevens website. “So to get to go to Canada and Dubai (in November/December) is pretty cool,” she said.

“For me as a Welsh person, I don’t get many opportunities to play the world-class teams because we are not on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and we are at the lower end of Rugby Europe so it is tough going back (from GB to Wales) knowing you’re going to be playing lower-end teams.

“For me and the Scottish girls, it’s about enjoying every second of playing on Team GB again. We don’t know whether or when we’ll get the opportunity to play against these teams again.”

In hot pursuit – Jasmine Joyce hunts down USA’s Jaz Gray (Credit: World Rugby Sevens)

Famously described by one commentator as being as ‘slippery as an eel in olive oil’, the Pembrokeshire-born speedster’s ability to evade tackles through pace and footwork makes her one of the rising stars of both sevens and 15s rugby.

Although currently playing for Team GB in Canada, Wales is never far from her thoughts.

“Hopefully, I’ll continue to get selected by Wales and want to go to the World Cup in New Zealand then Paris (Olympics) in 2024,” she says. “.Those are my rugby-based dreams for the next couple of years.”

You wouldn’t bet against her achieving them.



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Irish Rugby | Flood Thriving In Ireland’s Number 10 Role

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Although she is only four caps into her 15s international rugby career, Stacey Flood believes she is growing into the role of Ireland out-half.

Having featured extensively in the Ireland Sevens programme in recent years, the Dubliner made her debut in the 15s code when Adam Griggs’ side comfortably overcame Wales in the opening round of this year’s Women’s Six Nations in April.

Following her cameo role in that game, she came off the bench against France before delivering a player-of-the-match performance in her first start against Italy in a play-off win at Energia Park.

She was also handed the number 10 jersey in Parma on Monday evening as Ireland began their Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier campaign with a disappointing 8-7 defeat to Spain.

As she prepares to face Italy for a second time in 2021 this Sunday (kick-off 2pm Irish time), Flood acknowledged the experience of her team-mates is helping the Railway Union back to learn on the job.

“I’ve played in high pressure environments. I’ve been playing since I’m 18 in the Sevens. We’ve played in the World Cup and we’ve played on the Series for so many years,” she said.

“I think once you have the backing of the squad, like I’ve been having (it makes it easier). The girls are so, so supportive. I literally can’t harp on enough about how much they back me up.

“If they see anything, they’ll come to me and say it. It’s critical learning for me. I feel like I’m learning so much, but the more the players around me are helping, it makes it so much easier.

“Obviously out-half is a really, really important position, but it’s not a one-person squad. It’s a whole 40 players who have trained with us, pushing each other.

“I feel like I’m learning on the job, but it’s so exciting because I’m learning on the job. When something comes off, you’re like, ‘we practiced that yesterday in training’, and you’re seeing it happen on the field.

“Obviously some things in the game earlier this week weren’t coming off, but on any other day half of those would be tries.”

When Flood was replaced by Enya Breen in the 56th minute of the Spanish game, Ireland were 7-3 in front as a result of a Beibhinn Parsons try that was converted by Flood herself.

However, a Lea Ducher try in the closing stages ensures Griggs’ charges have been left with no margin for error in their remaining games against Italy and Scotland.

In terms of where Ireland did not perform in Monday’s contest, Flood looked at it from a general perspective rather than focusing on just one area.

“Because a lot of things in the game went wrong for us, it’s hard to put your finger on just one thing. Just as a collective, knowing when to pull that trigger and when to say, ‘look, we can actually get points on the board here and get some go-forward’,” she explained.

“Just punch and punch. Just going back to basics when we have to go back to basics. Not overcomplicating it.

The most frustrating thing is, we created so many opportunities. It was just a case of, ‘we’re not executing this’.

“When the forwards were firing, the backs weren’t firing. I think it’s a case that it’s kind of everyone needs to look at a team collective.

“It’s not one thing or the other thing. We just need to work as a squad together to have that want and know that, on these big occasions, we have to pull the trigger and get the points when we can.”

During the first half against las Leonas, Flood was able to take advantage of one of the new rules that World Rugby are currently trialling on a global scale.

Under the new 50:22 law, if a player kicks the ball from inside their own half and the ball bounces before going into touch inside the opposition 22, the kicking team will get to throw into the subsequent lineout.

Flood executed a kick of this kind up the left wing to give Ireland an attacking platform close to the Spanish line.

This is something that the Ireland squad had spoken about in the lead-up to the game, and while it did not lead to the second try that her side badly craved, Flood was pleased to pull it off in the heat of battle.

“I was more focused on catching the ball. I don’t think I caught it cleanly actually, but it bounced and I got it. I could actually hear Kathryn Dane screaming, ’50! 50!’,” she added.

“We had been practicing them in training. Not from that angle, but we had been getting the ball on the boot. Seeing if we had the range.

“I was happy with that, but I probably wouldn’t have given it a go if my team-mates weren’t shouting at me, backing it.”

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