France have won the first leg of the Rugby Europe 7s Championship, played in Algarve last weekend
In the weekend of their national XVs final, France selected possibly their strongest available sevens squad – despite having already qualified for the Olympics next year – and put on a display over the weekend.
Only beaten finalists Great Britain managed to score a point against them as the French swept all before them.
World Series teams did not select full strength teams last year, which resulted in this year’s seedings for the first leg being a little lop-sided, with Pool C – normally the weakest pool – including both France and Great Britain, Pool B included both Spain and Ireland, while Pool A did not feature any World Series teams.
This worked well for last year’s champions, Poland - who are arguably the strongest non=World Series team in Europe – as they managed to reach the semi-finals without meeting World Series opposition. Great Britain, on the other hand, faced both France and Spain on their way to the last four. Belgium, who performed so well in the recent World Series qualifier, also emerged from Pool A.
Pool B was unsurprisingly dominated by Spain and Ireland, with Spain – despite some key injuries having a good weekend including a draw with Ireland, who topped the pool on points difference.
Pool C came down to France against Great Britain, with a strong second half performance seeing France through as pool winners.
As well as Poland, Ireland and France cruised through the quarter-finals before one of the best matches of the opening two days, with Spain pushing Great Britain all the way, coming back twice from British scores to just fall short.
Great Britain eased past Poland in the first semi-final, before France dismissed Ireland with unexpected ease in the second.
In the final Great Britain took and early lead, but France battled back to draw level, before two tries in quick succession won the tournament for the French.
Next weekend it’s the European Trophy first leg in Zagreb. The Olympic qualifier in Krakow follows the weekend after before the Championship concludes in Hamburg on 7-9 July.
Pool A: Poland 43-5 Romania; Belgium 22-7 Czechia; Poland 17-12 Czechia; Belgium 15-12 Romania; Poland 17-7 Belgium; Czechia 34-5 Romania
Pool B: Ireland 27-0 Sweden; Spain 22-5 Germany; Ireland 43-5 Germany; Spain 26-0 Sweden; Ireland 12-12 Spain; Germany 28-5 Sweden
Pool C: France 31-0 Italy; Great Britain 31-5 Portugal; Great Britain 43-5 Italy; France 47-0 Portugal; France 33-12 Great Britain; Italy 12-19 Portugal
Quarter-Final: Poland 31-0 Germany; Ireland 22-5 Czechia; France 36-0 Belgium; Spain 10-14 Great Britain
9th-12th Place Semi-Final: Portugal 22-7 Sweden; Romania 0-20 Italy
5th-8th Place Semi Final Germany 14-38 Spain; Czechia 7-12 Belgium
Semi-Finals: Poland 7-31 Great Britain; Ireland 0-29 France
11th Place; Sweden 17-12 Romania
9th Place; Portugal 14-34 Italy
7th Place; Germany 17-12 Czechia
5th Place; Spain 12-0 Belgium
3rd Place; Poland 7-20 Ireland
Final Great Britain 7-19 France