2005–06 World Sevens Series
The 2005–06 World Sevens Series was the seventh in an annual IRB Sevens World Series of rugby sevens tournaments run by the International Rugby Board since 1999-2000. The participating teams in each World Sevens Series are full national sides.
|2005–06 World Sevens Series|
|Host nations|| Dubai|
|Date||1 December 2005 - 4 June 2006|
The series was won by Fiji in the last event of the competition. In the final event Fiji needed to finish as Plate winners or higher to ensure that they would win the series. In the final event Fiji won the Cup competition making them the 2005-06 Series Champions.
Sevens is traditionally played in a two-day tournament format; however, the most famous event, the Hong Kong Sevens, is played over three days.
The most famous Sevens event, the Hong Kong Sevens, returned to the series after a one-year hiatus in 2004-05 for the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens, which was held in Hong Kong in March 2005 and won by Fiji.
The tournaments spanned the globe, with the following events included in the 2005-06 tour:
|Dubai||Dubai Exiles Rugby Ground||December 1–2, 2005||England|
|South Africa||Outeniqua Park, George||December 9–10, 2005||Fiji|
|New Zealand||Westpac Stadium, Wellington||February 3–4, 2006||Fiji|
|United States||Home Depot Center, Los Angeles||February 11–12, 2006||England|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong Stadium||March 31-April 2, 2006||England|
|Singapore||National Stadium, Singapore||April 8–9, 2006||Fiji|
|Paris||Stade Jean-Bouin||May 27–28, 2007||South Africa|
|London||Twickenham||June 3–4, 2006||Fiji|
In a normal event, 16 teams are entered; in Hong Kong, 24 teams enter. In each tournament, the teams are divided into pools of four teams, who play a round-robin within the pool. Points are awarded in each pool on a different schedule from most rugby tournaments—3 for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 for a loss. The first tiebreaker is difference in points scored during the tournament.
Four trophies are awarded in each tournament, except for Hong Kong. In descending order of prestige, they are the Cup, whose winner is the overall tournament champion, Plate, Bowl and Shield. In Hong Kong, the Shield is not awarded. Each trophy is awarded at the end of a knockout tournament.
In a normal event, the top two teams in each pool advance to the Cup competition. The four quarterfinal losers drop into the bracket for the Plate. The Bowl is contested by the third-place finishers in each pool, while the Shield is contested by the last-place teams from each pool.
In Hong Kong, the six pool winners, plus the two highest-finishing second-place teams, advance to the Cup. The Plate participants are the eight highest-ranked teams remaining, while the lowest eight drop to the Bowl.
The season championship is determined by points earned in each tournament. For most events, points are awarded on the following schedule:
- Cup winner (1st place): 20 points
- Cup runner-up: 16 points
- Losing Cup semifinalists: 12 points
- Plate winner (5th place): 8 points
- Plate runner-up: 6 points
- Losing Plate semifinalists: 4 points
- Bowl winner (9th place): 2 points
Points are awarded on a different schedule for the Hong Kong Sevens:
- Cup winner: 30 points
- Cup runner-up: 24 points
- Losing Cup semifinalists: 18 points
- Losing Cup quarterfinalists: 8 points
- Plate winner (9th place): 4 points
- Plate runner-up: 3 points
- Bowl winner (17th place): 1 point
|Final 2005/06 Standings|
|New Zealand||USA||Hong Kong||Singapore||Paris||London||Overall|
New Zealand, which had won the first six World Sevens Series, was mathematically eliminated from contention for the 2005-06 crown after the Singapore Sevens. Fiji's title was the first in the seven-year history of the competition to be won by a country other than New Zealand.
The opening event of the season saw England defend their title, but not without a major fight. They had a very tough semifinal against Samoa, surviving only via an injury-time try by Sevens newcomer Tom Varndell and conversion by Simon Amor after Samoa had been controversially reduced to six men in the final seconds. Facing England in the final was Fiji, which had a much tougher road to the final. In what would prove to be a harbinger of the season to come, they upset six-time defending series champion New Zealand in the quarterfinals. Fiji then defeated South Africa in the semifinals.
The final proved to be a back-and-forth game, with each team seemingly having an answer for the other's scores. However, Varndell, who was named player of the tournament, scored his third try of the final and 10th of the tournament with little more than a minute to go, giving England a lead Fiji could only reduce. 
|Cup||England||28 - 26||Fiji|| Samoa|
|Plate||New Zealand||19 - 7||France|| Argentina|
|Bowl||Wales||19 - 5||Canada|| Portugal|
|Shield||Kenya||10 - 7||Tunisia|| Arabian Gulf|
Here, Fiji scored their first win in an IRB Sevens event since their 2002 win in this very event. They defeated both New Zealand and England in the knockout phase to advance to the final. Their opponents were Argentina, who were upset by Wales in pool play, but went on to defeat New Zealand later in pool play. Fiji took a 14–0 lead after five minutes of the final, but Argentina stormed back to take a 19–14 lead. William Ryder scored a try near the end to draw Fiji level, with the winning points provided by a conversion from Sevens legend and player-coach Waisale Serevi. The man-of-the-tournament award went to Serevi's successor as Fiji Sevens captain, Jone Daunivucu. 
|Cup||Fiji||21 - 19||Argentina|| England|
|Plate||Samoa||17 - 5||New Zealand|| Australia|
|Bowl||Wales||34 - 14||Portugal|| Scotland|
|Shield||Canada||12 - 5||Tunisia|| Kenya|
This event made it clear to many observers that for the first time in the history of the World Sevens Series, New Zealand would not be the overall winner. While New Zealand were unable to win on home soil in Wellington, Fiji advanced to their third final this season, defeating New Zealand in the semifinals. The Fijians won a nail-biting extra-time final over South Africa to take pole position in the series. [permanent dead link]
|Cup||Fiji||27 - 22||South Africa|| France|
|Plate||England||14 - 10||Argentina|| Australia|
|Bowl||Scotland||10 - 5||Canada|| Cook Islands|
|Shield||Tonga||19 - 14||Papua New Guinea|| Niue|
England stormed back into contention for the overall series crown here, destroying Fiji in the final. By this time, it became increasingly clear that the race for the title would be between the two Los Angeles finalists. [permanent dead link]
|Cup||England||38 - 5||Fiji|| New Zealand|
|Plate||Argentina||21 - 5||France|| Australia|
|Bowl||Scotland||26 - 21||Tonga|| Uruguay|
|Shield||Kenya||26 - 12||United States|| Mexico|
The 30th edition of arguably the biggest event in the Sevens version of the game saw what Planet-Rugby.com called an "absolutely mesmerising" final. The first half belonged to England, who took advantage of a Fiji sin-binning to break open a tight game to take a 19–7 lead at the break. Serevi's men stormed back in the second half to level the score, and eventually took the lead on a Ryder try. However, they turned the ball over as the full-time siren sounded. England took advantage, with Ben Gollings scoring a try to tie the match and converting to win. [permanent dead link]
|Cup||England||26 - 24||Fiji|| New Zealand
|Plate||Wales||15 - 5||Kenya|| Canada
|Bowl||China||47 - 0||Chinese Taipei|| Hong Kong
This event saw a rematch of the Hong Kong final, with Fiji scoring a comfortable win this time, despite missing two key players—Danivucu to a three-month disciplinary ban for biting Varndell in the Hong Kong final, and Epeli Dranivasa to a broken arm suffered in the same match. New Zealand were officially eliminated from contention for the series crown, crashing out in the Cup quarterfinals to Argentina and losing in the Plate semifinals to Samoa. Fiji placed themselves in pole position to claim the series crown; if they made the finals in Paris and England, they would win the series title no matter what England did. 
|Cup||Fiji||40 - 21||England|| Argentina|
|Plate||Samoa||26 - 5||France|| Australia|
|Bowl||Kenya||12 - 0||Japan|| Canada|
|Shield||South Korea||43 - 5||China|| Hong Kong|
Going into Paris, second-place England knew they had to finish at least two spots ahead of Fiji in one of the remaining two tournaments to win the overall title. England caught a major break when the hosts, France, stunned Fiji 22–21 in the Cup quarterfinals, knocking them into the Plate competition. However, England could not take advantage of the upset, crashing out of the Cup at the same stage to Australia, 29–17. Fiji went on to win the Plate and extend their lead over England for the overall crown.
In the meantime, South Africa went on to win the Paris crown. In the final, they avenged a loss to Samoa in pool play, with Rayno Benjamin and Danwell Dimas scoring two tries apiece.
The results here all but assured Fiji the overall crown. England could only win the 2005-06 series if they won the final event at Twickenham and Fiji lost in or before the Plate semifinals. 
|Cup||South Africa||33 - 12||Samoa|| Australia|
|Plate||Fiji||31 - 12||Argentina|| England|
|Bowl||Kenya||31 - 7||Italy|| Canada|
|Shield||Scotland||40 - 0||Germany|| Portugal|
The first day saw Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand sweep through pool play unbeaten. The most competitive pool was Pool B, featuring the hosts England. The pool was tightly contested, with England neck-and-neck with Australia and surprise package Kenya. In a major shocker, Kenya easily defeated Australia 26–7. Although England would lose the day's final match 24–19 to Australia, they topped the pool on points difference, with Kenya finishing second. 
On Day 2, Fiji clinched the overall series crown by defeating Kenya 33–14 in the Cup quarterfinals. They went on to crush South Pacific rivals Samoa 54–14 for the London crown. England held off South Africa for second place, advancing to the Cup semifinals while South Africa could only advance to the Plate final, in which they beat Kenya.
The Bowl competition went especially against form. In the first semifinal, Portugal surprised Scotland 24–12. The second saw an even more shocking result, as Russia used a hat trick from Igor Galinovskiy to stun Australia 21–5. Portugal won the final 45–0. 
|Cup||Fiji||54 - 14||Samoa|| England|
|Plate||South Africa||42 - 7||Kenya|| Argentina|
|Bowl||Portugal||45 - 0||Russia|| Australia|
|Shield||Italy||17 - 12||Canada|| Germany|