England win Dubai Sevens
Dubai - Defending champions England retained their Dubai Sevens crown after beating France 29-12 to claim the second leg of the IRB World Sevens Series here on Saturday.
Ben Ryan's side edged New Zealand (10-7) and Fiji (19-12) in the knock-out phases, and proved too powerful for a French team that had shocked South Africa in the quarter-final and were appearing in their first final since 2005.
"We played well today," said Ryan. "To play New Zealand and Fiji in the quarter-and semi-finals certainly stiffened the sinews and made us stick to a gameplan.
"We played some clever football and we were ruthless and there were some outstanding contributions from individuals."
France coach Frederic Pomarel said: "It's a surprise to hit this level so quick. But the better side won.
"We have a lot of defensive work to do to get in among the best five or six best nations but we showed that we are dangerous outsiders."
Fiji-born Isoa Damu opened the scoring for England after a poor tackle by Paul Albaladejo opened up midfield and Dan Norton notched up a second shortly after, collecting his own chip and chase to go in under the posts.
But Renaud Delmas got one back for the French before Mat Turner scored a brace of five-pointers in quick succession to really put Les Bleus on the backfoot, facing a 24-7 deficit at half-time.
Delmas claimed his second try early in the second period to make for a tense finale, but England had the last word with a late Rob Vickerman try sealing a fourth Dubai title after previous wins in 2010, 2005 and 2004.
Fiji defeated Argentina in sudden-death extra time in the bronze final, Livai Ikanikoda scoring his second of the match to secure victory.
In the other trophies, Lewis Holland scored with the last play of the plate final to help his Australia side beat South Africa 17-14.
An Andrew Turnbull hat-trick saw Scotland beat the USA 26-0 in the bowl final, while Samoa defeated Kenya to lift the shield.
The weekend, however, was a disastrous one for New Zealand, nine-time winners of the Series over the last 12 seasons, knocked out in the quarter-finals by England and suffering three losses in a row for the first time in their history (against South Africa in pool play on Friday, England and then Australia in the plate semi-final).
"It's been a disappointing tournament for us," coach Gordon Tietjens admitted.
"There's still a lot of self-belief in the team, they'll be hurting," the veteran coach said, pinpointing composure, patience and physicality as three aspects his team will have to improve on in Port Elizabeth next weekend.
"But it's still early in the World Series, it's only the second tournament and we've just got to get back on the horse and give ourselves a good account of ourselves in South Africa next week.
"Option taking was pretty average at times, on-field decision-making was terrible, we got punished for that."
There was no double delight for England as their women's side lost in the final of the first IRB-sanctioned international women's sevens competition, launched in the lead up to the start of a new women's Sevens Series in 2012, the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013, and the Olympic Games in 2016.
The tournament featured seven other teams (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, South Africa, Spain and the USA), the Canadians beating their English rivals 26-7 in the final.
IRB World Sevens Series results from the second leg of the nine-tournament competition in Dubai on Saturday:
England 29 France 12
Fiji 26 Argentina 21
Australia 17 South Africa 14
Samoa 31 Kenya 17