The Adelaide, Australia stop on the popular IRB Sevens World Series kicked off today with a bang.
Two upsets in the eight games played on Day One of the tournament highlights the increased competition and parity that is becoming a key ingredient of the success of rugby sevens.
Wales knocked off powerhouse Fiji 17—12 to notch the first upset of the day.
The USA laid claim to the second upset of the day as history repeated itself. The last American victory over England came in Adelaide in 2008 and they have done it again with a 24-21 victory over England.
England came into Adelaide in fourth place on the IRB Series. The two teams had met twice earlier in the season, with England cruising to two easy victories.
This time around, however, it was the Americans that came on top. The USA got two tries from team captain, Kevin Swiryn and held off England down the stretch.
England got off to a fast start with a try from Mat Turner forty seconds into the game and the conversion from Ben Gollings put England ahead 7—0.
The remainder of the first half belonged to the USA, with tries from Swiryn, Nick Edwards and Matt Hawkins. The final try of the half served as not only a boost on the scoreboard, but in confidence as well.
After defending deep in their own half as time clicked away on the first half, the USA got a big turnover and finished with a Matt Hawkins score to extend their lead to 17—7 going into halftime.
“They (the USA) had a true belief in themselves and that they could beat England,” said USA Sevens Head Coach Al Caravelli.
England got on the board first in the second half. Gollings, the IRB Sevens all—time leader in points, added to his totals with a try and conversion to cut the USA's lead to 17—14.
Swiryn, fully healthy after still feeling the effects of injuries in the last two IRB tournaments, struck back a minute later with his second try of the game. The conversion from Nese Malifa gave the USA a 24—14 lead.
England cut into the lead one last time with a Nick Royal try and conversion from Gollings to place the score at 24—21 with less than two minutes on the clock.
The USA’s defense held firm and sealed the unlikely victory. It was only the third time the USA has defeated England (3-13 all—time record) since the inception of the IRB Series.
The win over England is a major boost and the first time all season the USA has opened a tournament with a win. The victory also runs the USA’s winning streak to five games, which is the team’s longest ever.
The win does not give the USA an automatic trip to the Cup Round, though. It's a great start, but with two more pool games to play, the USA still has plenty of work to do.
England will most certainly bounce back and could press the issue if they win their remaining two pool games and the US, England and Australia each finish the pool round with 2—1 records.
At that point, it may all come down to points difference, which is the tie—breaker on the IRB circuit. Australia has put themselves in good position already, with an easy 40—5 win over Niue.
The USA needs to avoid a letdown on Day Two, especially against Australia. A win against the host team will seal a trip to the Quarterfinals for the USA. A loss to Australia will put the USA in a position where they have to run up the score on Niue in their final pool match.
Here are all the results from Day One of the Adelaide Sevens:
- USA 24 England 21
- Australia 40 Niue 5
- Argentina 19 Tonga 17
- New Zealand 31 Scotland 0
- Kenya 27 Papa New Giunea
- Wales 17 Fiji 12
- South Africa 40 Japan 0
- Samoa 33 France 12
This article was originally published on Rugby America .