HSBC SVNS: Argentina crowned League Winners as New Zealand strike gold

We recap the final day of action in Singapore as Argentina were crowned SVNS League Winners 2024 and New Zealand went back-to-back in Singapore with victory over Ireland.

The regular HSBC SVNS season concluded in Singapore as Argentina were crowned SVNS League Winners 2024 and New Zealand edged Ireland 17-14 to clinch the Singapore title.

Los Pumas Sevens scrapped their way to a 14-10 win over South Africa in the fifth-place play-off, coming back from 10-0 down at the break to secure their first-ever series win.

As Argentina’s celebrations began, it was the All Blacks Sevens who clinched the title in Singapore, defending their trophy from last year and taking their second consecutive series gold.

The race for the last Grand Final spot was eventually won by Great Britain after a 26-5 victory over Australia in the bronze medal match. USA had held off a French fightback to win 19-17 in the seventh-place play-off, but Great Britain’s win saw them clinch the eighth seeding.

Argentina crowned League Winners  

It was an emotional moment when Argentina finally confirmed themselves as this season's League Winners, a last-minute winner from Tobias Wade under the posts confirming the title that looked so firmly in their grasp after three wins in the first four tournaments of the season, but became less certain after slip-ups in Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

“It’s been such a long time. So many moments, good and bad,” reflected Argentina’s Gastón Revol, who debuted for his country back in 2009, on winning the SVNS title.  

“The journey was really difficult. We kept on trying, kept on training, kept on believing in this team and I think we have the prize that we deserve.

“It’s incredible to be here at this moment. Here and in every other tournament at my age, I’m 37 years old and I’m still here with these guys, these great players.”

Trailing South Africa at the break, Revol spoke of what it took for his team to come back for the victory.

“This is our team – this is us,” he said. “In the difficult moments we get together and do things like winning the match.

“[At half-time] one of the guys said in the [huddle] that we could, that we have to trust, and we did that,” he added. “We started to believe.”

New Zealand edge Ireland 

Two first-half tries from Leroy Carter and Fehi Fineanganofo took New Zealand into a 12-0 lead before Ireland had their first threatening attack, but the men in green managed to cross for one of their own just before the break through Gavin Mullin for a 12-7 half-time score.

A tense second half was eventually broken by Dylan Collier sniping at the ruck for New Zealand’s third, but Harry McNulty, who missed his tackle on Collier to concede a minute earlier, made amends with a score at the other end to make it a three-point game.

A Cody Vai knock on gave Ireland one final chance, but they were left bridesmaids in a final for a third time as Tone Ng Shiu came up with the crucial turnover at the breakdown.

In the semi-finals: Last-gasp Ireland; NZ outmuscle Australia   

A lot was riding on the Cup semi-final between Great Britain and Ireland; if the former won, they would seal qualification for Madrid, and would hand the League Winners title to Argentina, but if Ireland won, it would all still be up for grabs.

Connor O’Sullivan dotted down the first score of the game, but minutes later Alex Davies brought Great Britain within two, Charlton Kerr taking them in front just after the break.

Ireland made it all square with two minutes to go through Jordan Conroy, and with the clock ticking down GB looked sure to have won it but dropped the ball on the final pass in the right corner.

Instead it was Ireland, kicking a straightforward penalty in golden point, who advanced to the gold medal match.

Fineanganofo gave New Zealand a 14-7 lead over Australia in their semi-final, after Kitiona Vai and Nathan Lawson exchanged scores in the opening minutes.

Vai’s second gave NZ some breathing room in the second half, and Brady Rush sealed their final spot and a chance to defend their Singapore title.

GB clinch spot in Madrid 

Just as in their semi-final, the permutations were simple for Great Britain – win, and they would finish eighth and play the Grand Final in Madrid; lose, and they would be in the promotion-relegation tournament.

But Great Britain were not going to let their second chance go begging. Max McFarland got GB on the scoresheet after four minutes, and just before the break captain Robbie Fergusson added a second with an incredible score, sprinting 70 metres before holding off the Australian cover tackle, and adding a sublime left-handed finish. 

Two more tries in the second half from Will Homer and Kaleem Barreto put them far out of reach, Great Britain’s men matching the achievements of the women yesterday to earn a spot in the Grand Final and safety for next season's series.