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USA Falcons win “London Invitational”

The USA Falcons deservedly won the (slightly confusingly named) “London Invitational Sevens” on Saturday, going unbeaten over the two days.

Photos: Taiwan Mike Lee / USA Rugby

Eight teams took part in this weekend’s London Invitational tournament, which was organised and funded as a training event by the RFU. Despite its name, the competition actually took place at Guildford RFC in Surrey (over 30 miles and nearly an hour south-west of London), near the home of the Great Britain squad at the Surrey Sports Park.

With the final round of the Women’s Sevens World Series next weekend in Clermont-Ferrand in France, most teams used Guildford as a chance to giving playing time to their wider squads. The USA fielded their second string Falcons team, the Canadians brought the development Maple Leafs side, France played all of the squad who had not been selected for Clermont, Spain brought over several young-up-and-coming players, and Great Britain were able to field the non-English players who cannot play in the World Series. Brazil had the same squad as that which had played in Paris the weekend before and Japan brought over a 15-player squad that will be used for both Guildford and Clermont.

Overall therefore this was much more about giving everyone match time in a competitive environment, and a last chance for fringe players to catch the coach’s eye, as it was a formal international tournament.

The eight teams were divided into two pools for Friday:

Pool A: Great Britain; Brazil; Japan; United States Falcons
Pool B: Canada Maple Leafs, Ireland, France, Spain

In Pool A, Great Britain and the US Falcons were clearly a level above Japan and Brazil – though the latter ended the day with a good win over Japan, a game that, if repeated in Rio, could well be the bowl finals and could decide a place in the 2016/17 World Series. The crucial pool decider went the way of the Falcons, who beat the home team 21-12.

Pool B went to a similar pattern, with France and the Maple Leafs comfortable winners in the first two rounds before clashing in the final game, the Maple Leafs in this case coming out on top. The final game of the day was an exciting 10-10 draw between Ireland and Spain, with Spain taking third place in the pool on points difference overall.

On Saturday Great Britain and the Maple Leafs won their quarter-finals comfortably, but the Falcons only sneaked past Spain with the only try of the game, and France needed nearly seven minutes of exhausting, cagey, overtime to finally see off Brazil 10-5.

A couple of hours later the Maple Leafs swept into the final with a 20-0 win over Great Britain, while tired French legs perhaps contributed to a narrow win for the Falcons 19-15. Spain made the plate final with a good win over a similarly tired Brazil, and Ireland just saw off Japan after sharing six tries thanks to the game’s only conversion.

And so to the classification games. Japan reversed their opening day loss to Brazil, taking seventh; Spain lifted the Plate with a narrow win over Ireland; and Great Britain saw off the French. The final then saw the Falcons beat the more fancied Maple Leafs by the odd try in five to win the tournament.

Day 1 results:

Great Britain 17-0 Brazil
United States 19-10 Japan
Canada 17-7 Ireland
France 17-0 Spain

Great Britain 35-0 Japan
United States 17-7 Brazil
Canada 17-5 Spain
France 24-7 Ireland

Great Britain 12-21 United States
Japan 10-19 Brazil
Canada 26-5 France
Spain 10-10 Ireland

Day 2 results

Quarter-finals:
United States 7-0 Spain 
Canada 26-12 Japan 
Brazil 5-10 France (AET)
Ireland 0-27 Great Britain

Plate semi-finals:
Spain 19-10 Brazil
Japan 15-17 Ireland 

Cup semi-finals:
United States 19-14 France 
Canada 20-0 Great Britain

7th place:
Japan 22-7 Brazil 

Plate Final (5th place)
Spain 10-5 Ireland

3rd place:
France 5-19 Great Britain 

Final:
United States 19-12 Canada