DHL IPA: Aminiasi Tuimaba epitomizes Fiji’s physicality at London 7s

Tuimaba puts on an explosive performance as Fiji flies to the top of the table.

After a sensational Singapore 7s, the thrills continued in London, where over 84,000 fans flocked through the hallowed gates of Twickenham stadium across the weekend. Fiji was crowned champions for the second year in a row after a flawless performance that featured six wins in six matches. A blockbuster semi-final vs. USA and a dominant final against Australia included an inspiring display of skill and physicality. 

The London 7s also decided four Olympic qualification spots, with Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa all booking their tickets to Tokyo 2020.

Flying high

Fiji’s flight to the top of this year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has been fueled by some fine rugby – explosive, powerful running and sublime offloading that is a pure pleasure to watch. In London, Aminiasi Tuimaba was at the heart of it all, with a brilliant performance across two days that earned him the DHL Impact Player of the tournament. With an overall point total that included 10 tackles, 7 breaks, 4 offloads and 26 carries, the Fijian winger epitomized the physicality brought by his entire team over the weekend. 

Early in the final, Tuimaba took two Australians over the line with him for the game’s first try. Australia simply had no answer to Fiji’s accurate passing and amazing offloading, features of Fiji’s game that paved the way for our Impact Player to complete his hat-trick before the break.

It was a Fijian 1-2 at the top of the DHL Performance Tracker, as Vilimoni Botitu came in second, after a brilliant performance that saw him chalk up 16 tackles and 9 offloads. The 45 points he earned in London has put him at the top of the overall Impact Player Award standings.

Australia’s Maurice Longbottom seemed to be running in tries for fun over the weekend and finished joint second with 45 points. He made an impressive 7 breaks and 15 tackles.

On the overall leaderboard, Botitu now leads the DHL Performance Tracker by eight, with Canada’s Connor Braid in second with 309 points. Braid had entered the weekend on top, 26 points clear of second place, but unfortunately suffered an injury that ruled him out of London and potentially Paris. Samoa’s Alamanda Motuga is a further five points behind with 304, with USA’s Ben Pinkleman another five back with 299.

Going into the final tournament in Paris, it’s certainly Botitu’s to lose. But as we saw this weekend, anything can happen!

Fiji on fire

Fiji eased past Australia 43-7 to win the HSBC London Sevens and take over from USA at the top of the series standings with one round to play.

It all came down to the final match at Twickenham after the Americans sealed third place at the #London7s, with Fiji knowing defeat would leave their rivals still at the summit with one round to go. If there were any nerves, they certainly were not apparent in the Cup final as Fiji romped to a 43-7 success.

With 164 points, Fiji now has a two-point lead over USA. New Zealand sit third with 143 and South Africa are fourth with 131.

The blockbuster semi-final vs. the Eagles, which finished 17-10 to the Fijians, was a major statement in the race for overall series victory as we go into the final round in Paris this weekend.

Australia put in a fantastic performance to finish second in London, winning their first two pool matches against Wales and Spain, before narrowly losing to USA 19-17. That set up a quarter-final vs. South Africa, in which they were brilliant and emerged victorious. They then beat France 31-24 in the semi-finals, reaching their first final of the series. 

The USA claimed their second bronze of the series, putting in a good performance before just falling short against the Fijians in the semis. They won all of their pool stages, although Wales pushed them very close (28-26). They beat France 31-14 in a very entertaining 3rd/4th playoff, which similarly to the final featured some brilliant skills and massive hits.

France continued to showcase strong form in the second half of the season with fourth, whilst England, the home nation, had an extremely poor tournament in terms of results. They finished 2nd last with two points, which was their worst showing of the season by some distance.

Two-horse race?

With only one tournament remaining, Fiji have re-claimed the overall lead with their 4th tournament win of the series. But with only two points separating them from a persistent USA, it’s definitely going to go down to the wire in Paris. 

With the Olympic qualification sorted, there’s not much to play for apart from the tournament win for most of the field but the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, England and France could all have a big part to play in who wins the overall series.

At the other end of the table, Japan and Kenya continue to battle it out to survive relegation, with only two points separating them, while Wales are a further three ahead. It’s very exciting going into the final tournament.

After slowly chipping away at USA’s lead with their impressive medal performances over the past three tournaments, Fiji is now in position to win the Series. Though USA’s eighth consecutive Cup semi-final didn’t go their way, Mike Friday’s men will definitely have their eyes on the prize next month in London as they look reel in and overtake Fiji.

Next up: Paris

The final tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 is upon us. The Paris Sevens will decide the winner. Will the Eagles soar once again, or will Fiji fly on to victory? And will Butitu maintain his seemingly untouchable lead and be named the DHL Impact Player of the Series? 

We won’t have to wait long to find out.

DHL Impact Player Award

A rugby player produces moments of skill and flair that are critical to a team’s success on the pitch, in the same way that DHL uses care and commitment to service your shipments. The DHL Impact Player Award recognizes such moments using a statistical analysis of individual players performances measured against four key criteria: Offloads, Carries, Line breaks and Tackles. The scores are compiled and presented on the DHL Performance Tracker, where the total score for each player is a combination of each criteria.

A winner is announced at the end of each individual tournament and the Overall Series Winner is judged across all 10 legs for Men’s and all 5 for the Women’s.

Follow #DHLImpactPlayer and @DHLRugby on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all the updates and insight on the DHL Impact Player Award!

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