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New Zealand WSWS Champions 2016/17

New Zealand won their fifth tournament out of six this weekend in Clermont, and with it the series title.

Day one followed the seedings almost perfectly, but that does not mean there were not a few missed heartbeats along the way, especially in Pool A where Ireland opened proceedings with what has become almost their trademark great start to the tournament, coming within three minutes of downing the Americans, before the American themselves made New Zealand work hard to their win in the final pool round.

The only real surprise came in Pool B where Brazil – who had to reach the quarter-finals to stand any hope of avoiding relegation – beat Russia 12-7 in the second round. When they were 12-0 up on England in their next match it looked like they were about to make an escape to rival Houdini.

But England – whose young selection had failed to score up to this point – suddenly found their form with Jess Breach showing her rugby experience after a short Brazilian restart, realising the whistle had not gone and that Brazil had turned off, grabbing the ball and scoring a crucial England try.

That set up an interesting finale with the maths showing that Spain had to beat Fiji by more than 17 points take Brazil’s place in the quarter-finals… or lose to them by more than 14 points which would give Fiji the final quarter-final spot. There was some debate afterwards about which route Spain had taken, but it took Fiji most of the first half before they scored their second try, and Uribarri Barrutieta’s blooded forehead after she had scored Spain’s second-half try suggests that some real effort was being put in.

As it was the two teams – Spain and Brazil – came together in the Challenge semi-finals, with Spain winning 12-5, so maybe the better team stayed up.

With England missing the quarter-finals (giving France the final World Cup spot) two of the three unanswered questions were decided before the start of the second day, and the third did not take long. When New Zealand comfortably beat Fiji in their quarter-final they shut the very remote mathematical possibility that Australia or Canada could have pipped them to the title.

The quarter-finals were generally one-sided affairs apart from France’s win 10-7 win over continental rivals Russia – putting down a marker for the second round of the European Championship next month.

New Zealand remained too good for the French in their semi, but Canada and Australia – playing for the series runners-up spot as well as a place in the final – had a titanic battle, the lead changing hands repeatedly before Australia finished on top.

The final – between the top two teams in the series – was an appropriate end to the series, and the final was like the season in miniature with the Ferns starting slowly, Australia having their fair share of the first half before getting better and better and pulling away in the second.

Pool A: United States 12-7 Ireland, New Zealand 21-0 Japan, United States 33-5 Japan, New Zealand 26-5 Ireland, Ireland 26-5 Japan, New Zealand 19-14 United States

Pool B: Canada 29-0 Brazil, Russia 27-0 England, Canada 45-0 England, Russia 7-12 Brazil, Canada 24-14 Russia, England 31-24 Brazil

Pool C: Australia 41-0 Spain, France 31-14 Fiji, Australia 33-5 Fiji, France 12-7 Spain, Australia 20-17 France, Fiji 45-7 Spain

Quarter-finals: New Zealand 31-7 Fiji, Russia 7-10 France, Canada 31-0 Ireland, Australia 31-14 United States

Semi-finals:  New Zealand 21-7 France, Canada 14-19 Australia

Bronze final: France 7-36 Canada

Gold final: New Zealand 22–7 Australia

5th/8th semi-finals: Fiji 24-7 Russia, Ireland 14-31 United States

7th place final: Russia 19-14 Ireland

5th place final: Fiji 24-19 United States

Challenge semi-finals: Brazil 5-12 Spain, England 7-25 Japan

11th place final: Brazil 27-17 England

Challenge final: Spain 15-14 Japan

Team

Dubai

Sydney

Las Vegas

Kitakyushu

Langford

Clermont

Pts

New Zealand

Australia

Canada

Fiji

Russia

United States

France

England

Ireland

Spain

Brazil

South Africa

Japan

PN  Guinea

Netherlands

Argentina

20

18

10

12

16

2

8

14

4

3

1

6

-

-

-

-

16

14

20

12

8

18

10

3

6

2

4

-

-

1

-

-

20

18

16

12

10

14

8

3

6

4

2

-

-

-

-

1

20

16

18

14

12

8

6

10

4

3

2

-

1

-

-

-

20

16

18

4

12

10

14

6

8

3

2

-

-

-

1

-

20

18

16

12

8

10

14

1

6

4

2

-

3

-

-

-

116

100

98

66

66

62

60

37

34

19

13

6

4

1

1

1