June 30, 2020 / 9:15 AM / 3 days ago

NZ take both titles as World Sevens Series gives up on season

SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Zealand were awarded the men’s and women’s World Sevens Series titles on Tuesday after World Rugby cancelled the remainder of the season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

FILE PHOTO: Sevens World Rugby Dubai Series - Cup Final - New Zealand v United States - The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - December 1, 2018 New Zealand players celebrate winning the final with the trophy REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Tournaments in London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong were cancelled on the men’s tour, while the women’s circuit lost rounds in the United States, Paris and Hong Kong.

“While it is very disappointing for players, fans, organisers and everyone involved ... the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and wider society remains the number one priority,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“These difficult decisions have been taken following detailed consultation with our union partners and in line with advice from the various government and public health agencies around the world.”

The All Blacks men’s team claim a 13th title after winning three of the six rounds that were completed before the spread of COVID-19 forced the suspension of all major sport around the world.

South Africa finished 11 points back in second place with 2019 champions and Olympic gold medallists Fiji third.

The Black Ferns women’s team had looked well on their way to a second successive title, and a sixth in eight years of the circuit, with four tournament triumphs in five rounds before the coronavirus shutdown.

Australia, who will defend their Olympic title in Tokyo next year, were second with Canada taking third place.

There will be no finals for the new second-tier Challenger series this year, World Rugby said, and therefore no promotion to, or relegation from, the top tiers.

“As a result of these amendments, seedings for the Tokyo Olympic Games will be adapted to include results from the 2021 Series to ensure they provide the most robust and accurate representation of current form,” World Rugby said.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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